Want Customers to Stay Awhile? Offer Free WiFi

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Want Customers to Stay Awhile? Offer Free WiFi for Customers

If you’re looking for ways to make customers spend more time in your retail business, restaurant, or shop, here’s one to consider: offering free WiFi to customers. By providing a service that just about everyone needs, you’re building in value to your customers and giving them a reason to stay longer in your place of business. Not only that, but you could boost sales by up to 50%!

Tips on Setting up Free WiFi for Customers

Who Should Offer WiFi?

Of course, not every type of business would benefit from offering free WiFi to customers. If you run a business where customers rarely come (such as a warehouse or Internet-based business), this idea isn’t for you. But if customers do spend time in your business and you’d benefit from getting them to stay longer, WiFi is an easy way to do that. Some businesses that should consider offering WiFi include:

  • Retail stores
  • Coffee shops
  • Auto repair businesses
  • Hair salons
  • Restaurants
  • Medical offices

Think about all the times you’ve spent waiting to see a service provider. Maybe you’d read all the magazines in the waiting room and spent time fiddling on your phone. Consider how much better your experience would be during a long wait if you knew the business offered free WiFi and you didn’t have to use your phone’s data plan.

Or maybe you want patrons of your restaurant to spend more time there. Today’s virtual workforce, made up of freelancers and employees who don’t have to work out of an office, are a great client base you can attract if you offer free WiFi (and free coffee refills!).

Make Sure Your Equipment is Up to the Task

The wireless router you use for your employees may not be robust enough to handle dozens of people accessing your internet signal at the same time. Check with your internet service provider and explain that you’re trying to offer public WiFi to your customers. They’ll have a recommendation about the level of service and speed you need, as well as what kind of router you need to amplify the signal throughout your place of business.

Should You Set Up a Password for the WiFi?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to setting up WiFi for just anyone to use. One school says you should protect your WiFi with a password to minimize people who aren’t paying customers from accessing it. Because the more people who are on your WiFi network at a time can put a strain on the accessibility, you might want to password protect your WiFi to ensure that those that use it can get fast service.

On the other hand, many people think having to ask for the password devalues the free WiFi, and so they offer an open network, no password needed. The benefit is that it’s super easy for anyone to hop onto your WiFi, which is a great attraction that will send you more business.

Create an Environment Conducive for Accessing the Internet

This is easy if you have a restaurant with ample seating, but how do you encourage shoppers at a retail store to stay a while and take advantage of your free WiFi?

Set up a lounge area with a couch and chairs to make them want to put their feet up and relax a while. You could offer complimentary beverages or snacks to further create a relaxing atmosphere that will attract shoppers to stay longer.

Use Your WiFi as a Marketing Tool

Once word gets out that your business offers free WiFi, you’ll see a pickup in business. Make sure to prominently display a sign on your storefront boasting the free WiFi, and mention if there’s a password (encourage guests to ask an employee for the password if you use one).

You likely already have internet service at your place of business. Opening up access to your customers virtually costs you nothing, and can have a major impact on the customer experience you deliver. That in turn will foster more sales and repeat business. What’s not to love?

Customer WiFi Photo via Shutterstock

Melinda Emerson Melinda Emerson, known to many as "SmallBizLady," is a Veteran Entrepreneur, Small Business Coach and Social Media Strategist who hosts #Smallbizchat for emerging entrepreneurs on Twitter. She is also the author of, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months.

2 Reactions
  1. WiFi has become expected by consumers and can be leveraged as a customer retention and marketing platform. Our clients use 13hats to collect customer contact data and in the moment feedback, using this data to stay connected with their customers with automated, smart messaging. Other systems require log in with a social ID, some with just an email but whichever system fits one’s needs, guest WiFi is an excellent tool to connect with your customers.

  2. We had free wifi at our place, 10+ years ago. But we pointed out T.A.N.S.T.A.A.F.L principle at the same time! 😉

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