so I work at a shop on the south end of Minneapolis.
a new owner took over last Nov.
they didn't really like the atmosphere in the shop because it seemed like there were too many people just sitting studying, using the wireless and listening to their own music with a small cup of coffee, for hours.
the first move they took was to disable a few outlets along the storefront windows so that the wireless users couldn't sit there for more than their battery would last, and so that other customers would get those preferred seats.
now, computers aren't allowed in the shop on the weekends.
myself and my coworkers seem to be the bearer of this burden because the customers approach us, and yell at us for the disabled outlets and the weekend policy.
at first I was very skeptical of the idea because it seemed confusing to kick out customers or not allow them in at all.
now I'm seeing more shops doing the same thing, or going into other shops and seeing the same effect, all computers..
and not wanting to stay there..
My son was born in Singapore last year, as a result I spent around 2 months in the City State getting to know the place better. All of the CBD and most of the Inner East Coast is covered by a free WIFI scheme run by the Government. As a result... all cafes etc have WIFI without choice. My observations in this case are any cafes are indeed full all day, everyday, with people sitting on their notebooks and making use of the space. A cafe owner I talked to said that the average user spent S$6.50 for a 3 hour stay... not a great return by any means. However, he did say that better the place was full and buzzing for atmosphere, rather than just having 1 or 2 tables full. Perception is reality... potential customers tend to congregate in places that are lively rather than empty.
I don't want to be a salesperson here, beause I know that's not what this is for... but we have a solution that allows owners to give away access with a purchase that is on a timer. That way, no one customer can sit for hours on end with one cup of coffee using the "free Wi-Fi" that is meant for patrons that are willing to spend more than $1.50 - $2.00.
I'm very interested in this board as I just added Wi-Fi yesterday to my cafe. AS far as I can see, If they come and sit down, they create atmosphere... In saying that, I have approx. 130 square metres of FOH and I need all the bums on seats i can get!
What i have though of doing is offering bottomless coffee as well. That way they actually hang around, and then buy food to soak up the coffee or invite a friend down to share the moment with them.
Great topic! I am planning on starting a cafe and concerned of this issue. However, I agree with what others have said; having people in the place creates some activity.
I can share this piece of wisdom. There is a borders cafe near a local university. The tables are always jammed of students, thus not many customers get to sit. At times, they have made announcements that "tables are for customers", so please make sure you have ordered. About 5 mins later an employee comes waling around to every table and tells each table the same thing...if no drink or food is o the table, the employee asks if they have ordered something yet. This always would get those in the tables to get up and order something...because they didn't want to lose their table.
So if you're ever that popular where the tables are all taken, I would just walk around and let people know in a polite way like that. I think most would understand. I hope I get that busy though.
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