The Great Wi-Fi DebateJune 12th, 2012
Photo credit: Jandos Rothstein and Darrow Montgomery, Washington City Paper
Filter Coffeehouse recently sparked a debate with the Wi-Fi ban in their newest location in Washington, DC. This isn’t the first sparring between coffeehouse owners and “laptop squatters.” As Eater reported, coffee shops are resorting to various tactics—from covering up outlets to Wi-Fi blackouts during peak hours—to pry squatters from their seats and encourage turnover.
Free Wi-Fi is certainly a perk, and it will attract customers to your establishment. On the other hand, enabling customers to monopolize a table indefinitely in exchange for coffee and a danish is not what most restaurateurs have in mind. Find a middle ground: change Wi-Fi passwords on an hourly basis to encourage fair patronage and turnover, institute a Wi-Fi blackout during peak hours or restrict laptops and Wi-Fi users to a particular section.
Above all else, decide on a Wi-Fi policy that is right for your brand and your business—and implement it with a smile. At the end of the day, it all comes down to friendly communication and an appreciation for the other’s perspective. Your customers understand that you need to make a living too. After all, the Wi-Fi is a bonus. It’s the unbeatable baked goods and decadent single-origin espresso that keeps them coming back for more.