I came across a post by someone I know called Tim and thought I would add it in and then add to it.
First it is about location.
You first need a location that has street access. It must be visible for everyone to see. People are lazy so close to the road is ideal. Having a sign letting people know you are there is important. Find a location that will support your cafe remember people are lazy so it needs to be near a community. Also passing jeepney’s trikes and other vehicles is important.
So you now have the location. Lets look at the set up. You need 30" X 4′ of space per computer. So calculate in how many computers you can filter into the space. Remember you want people to stay on the computer for a period of time. Do not skimp on the chairs. They are what provide comfort for the computers. Also you customers do not want someone right behind them and keep banging their chair. so consider all of that when designing the space. Carpet or Hard floors. I say go with hard floors. Reason people are messy and the dust from the vacuum will cause a problem. Also get your CPU up off the floor.
Target the market. Are you going for the gamers or chatters. You can not have it both ways. For the gamers you need to ensure you have what the public wants. Go to the internet cafes and see what games are on the machines in the area. Ensure you have tournament for the gamers. I do this once a week. It is vital to your success. Give free hour to the winners. They like it and will come back to practice. If you go with the chatting idea then you need to have headsets and webcams. I recommend headsets for both.
You will also need to have quality printing. Laser printers are cheap and you save in the long run. Toner is cheaper then ink. If you have colour printing then get a continuous ink feed printer for the printing. This is a conversion for the printers.
Computers well this can very with opinion. However here is what I use. For the chatters I have 1.6 celeron computers with 1 gig of memory. No graphic cards. For the gamers I have 2.8 P4 with a 256 graphics card 1 meg of memory. That all seems to do the trick. hard Drive as long as it all fits.
Monitors LCD is the only way to fly. CRT is hot and burns lots of electric. So go LCD.
Hardware, You will need to have a router. The 4 port variety will do. Then you will need to switch out from there. Do not get cheap here buy a good router. Linksys is a cisco system and netgear makes good routers. Switches you can get a little cheap here.
Software. Ok so you need to ensure you get licensed software. Philippine Anti Piracy board is hot and heavy here. The fine is high. They are funded by microsoft so they look mainly at that. So operating system needs to be microsoft and that is what people like. Word processor we use open office. Then we have skype, yahoo, firefox, Msn, Few other chat programs. As for a server client we use another free program called handy cafe. Also deep freeze your computers. This will prevent viruses and other attacks on your computers. Nice to have a fresh start every time you turn it on. The rate you need to charge has to be no less then 15 pesos an hour or you will lose money. Your computers are using 4 pesos an hour so keep that in mind.
Internet. So many people cheat on this. However do not. You need 1 meg of dedicated speed for every 10 computers. Do not get that home connection get a regular business line. Little more money however service is better. Go with PLDT if you can just better service with PLDT.
You are open and you have no customers. Several things you can do. People love free. We opened in two locations and the first day was free. No charge come in check it out. Then we handed out to everyone that came in a coupon for free half hour with an hour purchased. We do a lot of promotions. We had a cell phone give away. One coupon per 2 hours straight of internet usage. Free 10 hours of usage raffle one coupon per every 90 min of usage. Then we have the some other creative things. Wednesday is our slow day. So we had a free hot dog night. Drove our sales out of the roof. People love free and do not be afraid to give back. We had the PacMan Fight live. No charge found it online streaming and just put it on the computers. So be creative.
Be prepared the first 3 months you will just break even. So do not worry it may not be you. It is easy to see this as a money pit however it will pick up if you continue to promote your idea. Continue to build a dedicated client list. Tournaments and promotions. Always keep your promotions so they expire.
Employee. Family is always best. I go in and audit the records a lot. I make sure that people see me calculating the money in the drawer what is said in Handy Cafe. I have found errors and I point them out. I may not do anything however I show them how I look for these errors. They can not get into the screen I am in so they do not know this till the first time I look at it. It keeps them honest. Also I find it best to pay weekly. They seem to have more money through the week and less chance of theft. However it is hard to cheat when the server knows you turned on the computer and records the charges and time. They will try though so you have to stay on top of it.
You need to registrar your name with DTI. Then you have to go to BIR to registrar to pay taxes. Then you need a mayors permit. If you are in Cebu proper you have to pay association dues. Also you need a fire permit. This will cost about 8,000 and is included below in misc costs.
Last but not how much does it cost.
For a 10 computer set up and server :-
11 computers that 175,000
Licenses Microsoft 22,000
Refurbish building 13,000
Routers switch wires 9,000
printer X2 9,000
Web cam Headset 9,000
The projections for return on investment is about 18 months. That is charging 15 pesos an hour and 6 hours of usage per computer per day. The net profit for the same would be around 13,000 pesos a month. Granted your Electric is 2K Employee 2K and internet 4K rent is 6k. Your location is going to be mmthe most important decision you make. So scope out many many places.
Ive intergrated a lot of the hyperlinks to the associated software. But its a project we are about to start at home. Our main priority is making a few pesos rather than a fortune. We have a few consoles already and looking to intergrate them into the experience.. I think Tim has put a lot of work into this project and its paid off. I do think there are more things that can be done and the main thing is to keep at it. Next month we are starting our project and will be doing a stage by stage on the things we get upto, the problems we find and the overcoming of them.