“We don’t want to be a Starbucks” A client said that to me when I suggested that I can put WiFi in his bagel shop. Now I understand what he was a afraid of. He didn’t want some guy camping out in his shop all day not buying anything and taking up a seat in his place and playing DC Universe online. I am sorry to say there are people out there that do that. Lets face it, one of the reasons why Starbucks works is that it provides a meeting place for people including us Geeks. (After all I can and have gotten better coffee out of a vending machine.) That means tables, chairs, space, and WiFi.
That is half the battle for a company, isn’t it? Where would you rather be? Rather a busy restaurant or the one that is a ghost town? You have to ask yourself, why is it empty? For many small places, people are their advertising, the fact other people are around makes a place seem active and safer.
Lets face it you can get coffee anywhere, there are a hundred places to get a burger, (only 6 do them right but still) with all those choices available, WiFi can make the difference. Why? because many people need more than just a sandwich. (Myself included) I need to be able to work, I need to be able to meet with my clients, vendors, and business associates. I need to stay connected to stay competitive. I routinely meet people at my favorite coffee shop. That way I can work with them and now I have exposed them to a great meeting place. A place that they could come back to in the future.
WiFi for marketing
How would you like it if every time someone connects to your WiFi they see a screen showing your specials, your FB page, or your menu? A sign-in page can expose your customers to services, specials and events that they might not be aware of. How about to get online they need to submit an email address? WiFi can be a great tool to gather marketing data, or to build a list of addresses for direct email marketing. Also lets face it, no one writes a Yelp review good or bad when they get home. They usually write it after the fact good or bad. If you want that marketing/feedback it would be a good idea to make that easy for your clients.
So your sold now what?
Ideally your small business WiFi should have the following characteristics.
- Two networks: A secured network that the company can use for its credit card processor, P.O.S. systems, and the computers that belong to the business. A second open network that your clients/customers/guests can access
- Node isolation on the guest network: This is a setting in most routers that means that each device can only see the internet, they won’t be able to connect to any other computer or device on the network. That I can be connected on my laptop and the only thing I can access is the internet.
- Filtering the internet access so it won’t allow certain ” Not safe for public” sites such as adult content.
- The guest network is online only when the business is open.
- The network provides access to the entire property.
Is this all possible? Absolutely and more. It does take the right equipment, and it needs to be configured correctly, but this can and will provide a continuing value for your company. My name is Joe Serrago and I teach computers to behave themselves and if your interested in providing your small business WiFi or are not sure if your WiFi is configured correctly give me a call.