Published on September 16th, 2020 | by Bibhuranjan0
Starting an Internet Cafe – Read These Tips and Tricks to Run it Efficiently
The culture of Web and Gaming Cafes is very widespread in most Asian nations. Visiting these are a cheap and inexpensive way for the general public to enjoy fast internet access or enjoy multiplayer games with a bunch of fellow mates.
Due to the relatively cheap internet prices in Asian nations, the cyber cafe business is thriving in these parts of the world to say the least. This is in stark contrast to the west, where this culture isn’t really popular on the same level as in Asian countries. Also if it isn’t apparent already, despite the high upfront cost, starting an internet cafe is actually a very profitable venture, provided that you know what you are doing. But the lurking question that you may come across is – Why are internet cafe’s still going on when accessing the internet has become so easy?
Reasons for popularity of Internet Cafes
There are several good reasons why the Internet cafe business is still going strong, when it obviously makes more sense to just get a fibre line at your home:
- Speeds: Despite the internet being shared with hundreds of other users, you still get a very high internet speed, which can come in handy if you are uploading or downloading content off the web.
- Versatility: Even if you don’t own a computer or don’t have one with you at the given moment, you can just pop into one of these (provided that they are in the location) and can get access to a full PC for as long as you want to use.
- No commitment: Unlike home broadband where you have to commit to a monthly fee or endure FUP limits, internet cafe’s have no such limits and you only pay for whatever you use. The integrated internet cafe management software will ensure that you aren’t billed unfairly and that each minute or hour is accounted for.
- No Maintenance: Since Cafe’s are maintained by their respective owners, there is no need for you to buy a PC of your own. You can always be assured that you’ll find a working computer at any time that is convenient to you.
- Gaming Without breaking the bank: Cafe’s that specialize in gaming are especially good because there are a lot of kids that want to play the latest AAA Gaming titles, but cannot afford to keep upgrading their PC’s every year.
- Good For LAN Parties: It is often to difficult to host multiplayer online matches if the internet connections for your team are all over the place. There can be a number of issues like high latency, interruptions, disconnections, etc.. that can ruin the gameplay for the team. So hosting the tournament at a dedicated gaming cafe can often solve this issue.
- A vital tool for the poor: Not everyone can afford a computer, let alone pay for dedicated internet lines. This is especially prevalent in a lot of Asian nations, where a lot of households often earn by the day or live on a very strict income each month. An Internet cafe for these people not only becomes the only means that they can every use a PC, but also an educational tool by which they can attend online classes, download study material or apply for jobs online.
Managing an Internet Cafe
Running a cafe isn’t exactly as easy as putting a bunch of computers in a room and calling it a day. The day to day challenges are bad enough that without a solid internet cafe business plan it will all fall to pieces in the long run.
There is actually a very long list of cyber cafe requirements, like getting licenses, selecting a proper location, procuring equipment, hiring staff, etc.. all of which can determine how efficiently your business runs on a day to day basis.
Perhaps the biggest challenge here is cost reduction and maximizing profits. There is no point in running a business when your running expenses exceed impede on the profit margins.
Here are some general tips that can come in handy when managing an internet cafe.
1. Future Proofing
The first and foremost challenge in setting up an internet cafe is that you need to consider the upgrade path for your PCs. While most networking equipment don’t need upgrading every now and then, it is the computers themselves that make up for a significant chunk of the upgrades.
There are usually 2 paths to solving this problem:
- Get PC components that are the cheapest that you can find, that will still run all the intended applications for a total of 2 years or more, then switch to newer generation components. This can be expensive during the long run.
- Alternatively, invest in components that are little more powerful but but do allow for greater longevity before being decommissioned. This is usually cheaper in the long run.
Lastly, getting components with an extended business warranty can also pay dividends when it comes to enduring the cost of bad components in the long run.
2. Invest in cafe management software
With hundreds of computers centralized at one location, it can quickly become inundating maintaining such a business, especially when at any given time, there could be tens or hundreds of customers using the services. Therefore a decent cyber cafe management software can be extremely helpful when it comes to tracking customers, their online activity and any other parameters that the management deems necessary to monitor. It can also be used to manage customer sessions, keep track of the time that they have spent and also bill them for their internet session.
3. Managing running expenses for computers
A bulk of the running expense for an internet cafe comes from the use of electricity and component wear and tear. While there is nothing that can done about the latter, you can definitely save up on your electrical expenses by adopting the following strategies:
- Take time to configure every computer so that it is being as efficient as possible. Software tweaks can include – adjusting voltages in the BIOS, limiting how high the CPU can clock at full loads and tweaking power management in order for the PC’s to go to sleep mode when not in use.
- Using a high quality Power Supply Unit (PSU) in the PC build, might cost a bit more, but it is one of the best things that you can do to save electricity. Cheap PSU’s are not only bad at regulating and supplying voltages to the PC, but they also waste a lot of energy by heat. The industry standard for a good PSU is determined by its 80+ rating. While its not exactly necessary to get the highest end PSU, since there is a diminishing return on investment. But, a mid-budget good quality PSU, while costing upto 3-5x more per unit, tend have a lower rate of failure, waste less energy as heat and generally carry decent warranties so that you can claim replacements in case of failure.
- Opt for PC components with better efficiency than bling. This is especially true when it comes to Gaming Cafe’s where components should be chosen with less bling and more efficiency. This means avoiding meaningless trends like RGB components. Also for gaming cafe’s, it isn’t necessary to have 4k monitors and such, since these do consume more electricity. Rather than a higher pixel count, a more responsive display with a higher refresh rate and better pixel response times will be better when it comes to competitive gameplay.
4. Diversify the pricing for services for more flexibility
There a number of ways that you can also earn more while grab more customers. For example, Internet access plans can be diversified into General plans, download plans or gaming plans – each suiting a different kind of customer.
Furthermore, the prices for additional services like taking a print, using the photocopier or ordering sundries like drinks and snacks can also be considered.
5. Invest in Cloud based AV solutions
Since you are going to be running hundreds of machines, it makes little sense to get individual Anti-virus licenses for each of the computers, when you can just invest in one single server based security solution. There are a lot of AV companies that actually offer business AV solutions that can monitor multiple computers in a live grid and run off a server.
6. Get robust and configurable network gear
This goes without saying, but to ensure a good browsing, download, multimedia or gaming experience on the Internet, robust networking gear are needed. And that means you should not buy whatever cheapest solution is available on the market. You should research your customers’ requirements and allocate a decent budget for this. Ethernet switches should have a backplane that is capable enough to carry bandwidth of all ports when running simultaneously in full capacity. Routers and stateful firewalls should be able to handle all network connections in and out of the cafe and still be able to deliver throughput equal or more than the Internet connectivity bandwidth at the premises. WiFi access points, if any, should have robust coverage and should support the maximum number of wireless clients possible. Depending on the need, you may need several of them to cover your premises. Last but not the least, the network equipment purchased, like switches, routers, access points and firewalls, should be highly configurable and should not have software limitations. Full customizability will ensure a smooth integration with the cyber cafe management software, allow you fine grained control over QoS optimizations and help you secure the network against unauthorized access and malware as much as possible. Without proper networking gear, your customers will experience slow speeds, high latency and your computers will be exposed to security threats.
Cyber Cafes are some of the biggest businesses in the world. While not easy to run and operate, they do present a very lucrative option for individuals looking to own a private business. So if you are actually looking into venturing in this area, doing your research before hand can often pay dividends in the long run.