One popular place where students and young professionals commonly hangout nowadays is a cyber cafe. Internet cafe or kiosks have been sprouting everywhere, and not just in the US, but all over the world. With the advent of the internet and its wide range of benefits getting more and more popular to everybody, the demand for more internet cafes keeps on increasing. Internet cafe owners are also keeping up with the market trend. If these cafes were previously known as just internet shops being just providers of internet services, they are now like coffee shops and cafes offering great food and coffee as well.
This industry still has a lot more to offer to increase and widen its target market, and to keep its customers always satisfied. Services The main reason why there are internet cafes around is to provide internet services to people who do not have access from their own homes. Usually, there are a lot of computers available which are all connected to one computer that acts as a server. Most of the cyber cafes have at least 10 computers available for their customers. The specifications of these computers are usually of the mid-range category. One important thing is that these units should be running fast.
Reliability is also as important because, as an owner, you would not want to lose money by having a computer down and, at the same time, spending a lot for its repair. The server computer, which is the one connected to the internet, usually has a high-end configuration – big storage capacity and fast performance. Most of the cyber cafes nowadays not only offer computer and internet access. There are also added services being offered such as printing, scanning, photocopying, CD/DVD burning, photo printing, faxing, and long-distance phone services.
Cyber cafes now aim to be some sort of a one-stop-shop for their customers. These businesses want to keep their customers and not look for another shop for services that they may not be offering. This is a good strategy for businesses to increase their customer base and increase earnings as well. Internet gaming is one of the recent technology introduced by this industry. Existing internet cafes either added more computers or upgraded their existing units in order to be capable of handling different internet game software. This new offering of cyber cafes has been very popular among teens.
Internet gaming is the modern version of video arcades and is more challenging and exciting because you are actually playing with humans, and not just computers. For a gaming setup, computers are connected to a local area network with one or more servers. Each of these computers has the highest hardware configuration possible as required by the game software. Depending on the game, the users or players can form teams and fight with other teams. These players and teams are all in the same room so it adds more fun to the game.
Since the goal of cyber cafe owners is to keep the customers in their shops for a long time, they also started offering food and drinks. Some even had some space allotted for something like a coffee shop or an espresso bar. If that will be added to the shop, though, the owner should be knowledgeable in the coffee business, or at least hire someone who is. It would be not too easy to manage an internet gaming shop and coffee shop in one since they have are two entirely different industries. The owner or the manager should have the right skills and expertise for the business to be successful.
It would be best if there would be one manager for the internet gaming business and another one for the food and drinks part. Having separate managers will give more focus on each group yet work together to compliment on each other’s services and offerings making the business succeed as a whole. Facilities Putting up an internet cafe not only requires business knowledge but technical expertise as well. The major equipments being used by these cafes are computers. These computers are required to have specific configuration for their specific purpose.
If the computer is simply used for internet browsing, typing documents and email, a mid-range system may suffice. The common hardware specifications of this kind are as follows: Pentium 4 processor, 512MB memory, 40 or 80GB hard drive, integrated video, audio and network cards. On the other hand, if the computer is used primarily for gaming, the usual specifications are: Pentium 4 processor (preferably Core Duo), at least 1GB memory, 80 or 120GB hard drive, at least 128MB PCI-Express video card, PCI sound card, integrated network card. If the shop is also offering CD/DVD burning, a few units should also have CDRW and DVD±RW drives.
For video editing services, at least one unit should have a video card with video capture capabilities. Other equipments that can be found in an internet cafe are printers, faxes, scanners, and copiers. For efficiency and practicality, most owners would buy the all-in-one type. Networking equipments are also important in this business. Routers, hubs, switches, network cables and data cables are needed to connect each of the computers together. Gaming cafes should have very reliable networking equipments because having these units down is unacceptable for this business.
Other shops that are always packed with customers would have TVs as well in their waiting area. Cyber cafes offering food and drinks should also have the necessary kitchen equipments. One thing that may be of a challenge in entering the cyber cafe business is the high maintenance requirement of the equipments. As an example, the owner of Howie’s Game Shack, Howie Makler (as cited in Cheung, 2006), said, “Every 18 months, I basically have to throw away everything and buy $700,000 in new computers. ” That is essentially about $3,500 per computer. It may be expensive but is definitely worth it in the long run.
It pays to have all the equipments well-maintained and always updated with the latest hardware and software. Talking about software, applications also form bulk of the investment the owner needs to make. Each application installed in each unit needs a license. But it is usually just a one-time fee unlike hardware that needs constant upgrading. Money Matters There is a very big potential of earning huge money in the internet cafe business. Other than the standard service of offering internet and email access, other options to earn are offering printing services, photocopying, faxing, scanning, even resume services and a whole lot more.
If planning to put up an internet cafe, it is better to also have a lot of gaming units since this is the trend nowadays. Network gaming is what keeps kids and teens inside these cyber cafes. The common running rates for an hour of internet and gaming access range from $4 to $7. The best way to determine the right price to set for the hourly access is to know the prices being charged by competitors within the vicinity. If there is no close competitor, which is highly unlikely, market surveys and prices being charged by neighboring counties or states can be used as references.
Other cyber cafes, like the Howie’s Game Shack, offer such a thing as a day pass wherein customers need not pay the hourly rate; they can buy a pass for $15 which is good for the whole day (Cheung, 2006). This is an example of a good marketing strategy in order to attract more customers, keep them playing for longer hours, and make them come back more frequently. Logistics and Marketing Although it is mentioned that the earning potential in the cyber cafe industry is quite attractive, it also depends on the location of the business and marketing strategies of the owner.
Location is one important factor in any type of business. Cyber cafe’s target markets are mostly teens, students and young professionals. Thus, it is beneficial to choose a location where these people are commonly found such as malls, near the parks and schools perhaps. Having creative and innovative minds would also benefit this kind of business. The owners or managers of internet cafes should never run out of marketing strategies in mind to keep customers coming. The cyber cafe business is definitely one promising industry as more and more people are now appreciating the benefits of the cyber world.
Although it may not be deemed as that lucrative a business yet, earning is definitely not a problem as long as it is backed by wise and strategic management. The country will most likely see more cyber cafes being established in the coming years. References Cheung, H. (2006). Gaming heaven for Southern California residents – Howie’s Game Shack. TG Daily. Retrieved February 13, 2007 from http://www. tgdaily. com/2006/05/26/howies_game_shack/ Palo Alto Software, Inc. (2007). Cafe – Internet Cafe Business Plan. Retrieved February 13, 2007 from http://www. bplans. com/spv/3142/