Are you thinking of opening a prohibition styled speakeasy serving custom crafted cocktails flavored with the latest Scottish gins? Or are you starting a pop-up cafe specialising in the latest trend: Bulgarian Tapas? What about bucking all the hype serving up good old fashioned diner grub? No matter what type of food or drink you plan to serve your customers, there’s going to be one thing that your customers demand as soon as they enter your place: WiFi. As a matter of fact, a recent survey showed that over 70% of customers felt that technology, like free WiFi, enhanced their restaurant experience.
In order to give your customers the best guest experience, you need to get everything right, including your decor, your staff, your food and, yes, your WiFi. With that in mind, here are our top five tips for setting up WiFi for your restaurant or club.
Use Professional WiFi Equipment
You’ve poured your heart and soul into your new business. So are you going to let your customers sign in to the same crappy WiFi router that your internet company gives to pensioners downloading pictures of their grandkids? No. It’s time to put on your big boy pants and pay for a decent router. But buying the best doesn't necessarily mean you'll need to empty your bank account. Some of the best brands, like Ubiquiti UniFi, Cisco Meraki, Netgear and, of course, Google, can go for as little as $100. Techradar has a nice roundup of some of the best routers out there.
The standard that WiFi uses for connections is called 802.11, appended with letters to reflect the WiFi generation. For example, when WiFi was first released to the public, way back when in 1999, it was known as 802.a. As of 2018, the most widely used standard is 802.11ac. The next generation of WiFi, known as 802.11ax, is expected to launch in 2019 and will support network speeds of up to 10gb/second. Yes. 10GB. But don’t sit around waiting for the latest standard to come out before you purchase your equipment. Since WiFi devices are backwards compatible, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting outpaced by technology.
Big Place? Go Mesh
If you've got a large pub or restaurant with lots of hidden nooks and crannies, then you're going to want to go with a mesh network. The idea behind mesh networks is to provide all around coverage for your pub or restaurant and eliminate any WiFi blind spots. A mesh network typically consists of a number of WiFi separate broadcast units, usually between two to four, that seamlessly integrate into one network. Hooking up mesh networks isn’t as difficult as it sounds, as the router software usually takes care of the integration for you. Even though you may have up to 4 devices bouncing a signal around your business, customers only have to worry about connecting to a signal network. This article in Tech Advisor is a quick read and gives you a nice overview on some of the best mesh routers out there.
Here's a short case study we did on Tapa, one of our customers who was experiencing a lot of problems with the WiFi in their restaurant before they came to us for a solution.
Setup a Captive Portal
Alrighty, so you’ve got your network all setup and brodcasting. You’re getting a great signal from every location in your place of business, even in the most distant bathroom stall (for those omnipresent Candy Crush addicts). Now all you need to do is write up your network password on all the walls so your customers can connect, right? WRONG. You’ve just spent some bucks paying for a professional WiFi network for your business, so why give it away for free? By using a software product like BLACKBX, you can setup what is known as a captive portal to give your customers access to your shiny new WiFi network.
Here's how it works: After a customer connects, they’re prompted to register for your network with their email address. Once they’ve verified their email, they’re logged in. No passwords to remember and no chalkboards on the wall. The other cool part about a captive network is that it will automatically connect your customer in the future. No more logging in! And the best part - at least for your business? You now have your customer’s email address that (with their permission, of course) you can use for our next tip - automated marketing.
Use Automated Marketing
You’re providing free WiFi for your customers and, in return, you’re getting their data. So use it! When you have a customer login to your WiFi with BLACKBX, in addition to an email address, you can ask for other details on the captive portal login screen - name, age, gender - anything you can think of. You can even add custom questions. This is a great place to ask your customer opinions about new menu items or specials you’re thinking about offering.
Once registered, you can then import your customers email into mailing list software like MailChimp, or use software like Zapier to do thousands of different tasks, like importing emails into a Google Docs spreadsheet. You can also use BLACKBX to send automated text or SMS messages. Want to reward loyal customers? Send them an email or SMS with a coupon for a dessert on their third visit. Haven't seen a customer in a while and want to get them back? Drop 'em a coupon for a free drink - who can resist that?
So you’ve got an awesome WiFi network with a captive portal and your customers are loving it. Now it’s time to spread the word! Put your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter user names EVERYWHERE - menus, the walls, even on your receipts. Encourage your customers to share their experience and, more importantly, their photos. Even better - do it with automated marketing. Let BLACKBX send an automated message after your customers have left the venue, asking them to login to TripAdvisor or Google Reviews and write about their experience.
Awesome WiFi in Your Restaurant or Pub
Now you've got awesome WiFi that your customers love, they're spreading the word about you all over social media and you're keeping them loyal with automated marketing. That wasn't so hard now, was it?
So, if you're thinking about taking the plunge and opening up the restaurant or pub of your dreams, and see the importance of offering awesome WiFi, why not give us a try? We offer a free, no-obligation trial and simple integration with most major WiFi equipment. Even better - we pair pretty well with just about every Bulgarian Tapa out there!