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Blog at Chefify

Why You Should Offer Free Wi-Fi To Your Restaurant Customers

Aug 12 2019 - 2:12pm
Work and home spaces are changing to accommodate a more versatile modern lifestyle, particularly in urban areas. Restaurants, therefore, should also adapt to the shifting needs of their customers. Eating establishments and cafés are becoming key bases for collaborative workers, remote or self-employed individuals, globe-trotters, students and creative types that prefer to have their drinks and meals in a social setting while staying connected online. Of course, to those of us with more conservative views on acceptable social behaviour, laptops and mobile devices at the dining table may be perceived as a huge faux pas.

The truth is, however, that you may be isolating a large segment of paying customers by not offering a free connection to the internet. In this blog post, we’re going to explore the benefits of having free wi-fi at your restaurant. 

What is driving the need for connectivity? 

Know anyone without a mobile device these days? It’s very rare to encounter a modern individual who does not rely on a phone, tablet or other devices to communicate with friends, family and clients.  

In 2017, 77% of American and 94% of British adults owned a smartphone. With these kinds of numbers, it’s easy to see how social norms are being affected, and the impact is irrevocable. 46% of surveyed consumers admitted that they could not live without their phone. So your customers certainly won’t be unphased by bad signal or lack of connectivity when visiting your restaurant. But your customers don’t just need their phones to communicate with their friends or post pictures on social media; other legitimate reasons support the necessity for decent wi-fi connection in restaurants. Let’s take a look:

  1. 29% of consumers use their phones as mobile wallets – as finances become increasingly digitised, more and more of your patrons will want to option to pay via an app. If your customer’s network reception is affected by your location, they may not be able to pay you. 

  2. Transportation applications are the new norm – it’s very likely that your diners will want to get an Uber or use another taxi-hailing app, particularly if they’ve had a drink. Making sure that they can arrange their transport before leaving your establishment is hugely beneficial. 

  3. Capitalise on those free social media mentions –  customers accustomed to immediately being able to share their experiences with their friends and online audiences. If they’re having an excellent time at your restaurant and enjoying your food, they’ll want to post about it right away. Don’t crush their vibe by subjecting them to slow upload speeds. 

  4. Messenger apps must always be enabled – Your customers are likely to organise their social gatherings via messenger apps. If they’re waiting for someone in their party to arrive and they can’t get hold of the outside world due to poor connection, this could prevent the entire table from placing their orders. Help your guests stay in touch with one another. 

The benefits of offering free wi-fi at your restaurant

Get the numbers

At the start of this blog, we mentioned the changing nature of work-life. Often, the lines are blurred; modern employees work longer hours with social and work events tending to blend. This creates fantastic opportunities for your restaurant if you are able to host larger groups that are not only looking for somewhere to eat, but also somewhere to network or talk business. Having access to a reliable wi-fi connection makes your establishment appealing to corporate types who are often likely to spend more and frequently return if your service is consistent. 

The two sides to the loitering coin 

Sure, you don’t want a customer that’s only going to spend £4 on a cappuccino to take up prime real estate in your best window seat, writing their debut novel for the rest of the afternoon and using your wi-fi to do research. 

However, if you’re a new business or things tend to slow down at certain times of the day, an empty shop-floor may not appear as inviting to passersby. Is your menu not so great? Are there hygiene issues? Are the staff rude? It looks a little dreary in there; maybe it’s safer to go to the tried and trusted generic chain down the road. Those are just some of the thoughts that potential customers could have if they see that your place is a little low on patrons. 

Suddenly, having that seat warmer in there doesn’t sound so bad, in fact, it adds to the ambience. To ensure that you don’t end up with too many such customers, you could, of course, cap the time that free wi-fi is available per customer and use third-party software to control access and pricing if necessary. 

Increase your sales

Not everyone will be the “hang around” type we’ve just mentioned above. In fact, the customers who have come in for business purposes or in search of a more comfortable working environment will take advantage of the services you have to offer. 

Desert, coffee, an extra side order – the more time they spend working in your restaurant, the more exposed they become to the delicious smells coming out of your kitchen. Suddenly, someone who only came in for a coffee is quite peckish, and your lunch menu becomes more and more appealing. You can also use the opportunity to target adverts and promotions, seeing as you already have a captive audience. 

Happier queues 

It’s the busiest time of the day, and your loyal customers are lining up to get a seat. Fantastic! But how do you keep them entertained? No one likes waiting, especially when they can smell all the appetising food being served to other customers. No, you don’t want any hangry people in your queue.  

Offering free wi-fi to your queueing customers gives them something else to focus on other than the frustration of waiting to be seated. Plus, you could send them to an interactive app that allows them to browse your menu and place their orders while they wait in the queue.  

Offering free wi-fi to your clients makes sense, particularly in the digital age. Making the initial investment may be an added expense, but internet connectivity is almost as necessary as other essential facilities that customers expect to find in a restaurant. You’ll not only enjoy a boost in clientele, but it’s also very likely to pay dividends in free marketing and PR for your eating establishment. 

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