Making a icafe (netcafe) profitable involves starting with the basics.

netcafe counter Originally when we started the net-cafe we were primarily looking for students who are looking to do documents etc. as well as chatters who would be in the net-cafe for hours. Currently we are mainly getting gamers which is the complete opposite of the setup we initially went for. Problem with this is the machines had to be heavily upgraded and the initial machines were P4s (Pentium 4) low spec we are now stepping up onto dual core with the machines being maxed out with large hard drives, latest graphics cards as well as a minimum of 2gb of fast memory. Does it make a difference? well the initial try of the first Dual Core machine has seen its never switched off! everyone wants to use it which is why we are rolling out not replacements but additions. The older machines will still stay at the net-cafe as they are ideal for students or for maybe assisting someone start a small net-cafe somewhere else. We find at peak hours we are full regardless of the machine types but having fast gaming machines will improve the off-peak incomes.

So now we have gone through some of our changes here from experience what about the post what are the basics?

Firstly is understanding your market and how your budget fits into the setup. No point having the greatest machines if people just want to use your printing and chat services. Demand is another key factor as having not enough machines may hinder your growth but at the same time having too many they will just gather dust. How do you work out how many machines you need really it depends on location, foot traffic and usability by the local community. E.g. if you open up in a sub-division where every house has a fast internet connection your not going to pickup too many customers. But if your more provincial with little or no competition your probably going to need at least 5 – 10 machines. Most Cafes I see have at least 20 machines but this isn’t always suitable for the size of location you may have as well as a chance your using it as a bolt on service to an existing business.

 

Staff training is paramount to the success of your business as well as their misunderstanding or lazy attitude can severely damage your income and you may not even realise (as it may get done when your not there!). So to combat that you really need to find people who are not only keen to learn but want to be part of a growing business with a possible future. You need to teach your staff new skills such as installations, finding minor faults as well as how to run the software that is on the machine and teach others how to use it. Burning DVD’s and CD’s you will also need to teach your trainee things like burn time to reduce the speed the units burn as most these days are 22 speed and up but music for example should generally burn at 2 speed to guarantee a good CD. Getting people into habits of checking and setting things up methodical will not only reduce the risk of scrap CD’s/DVD’s but the quality of your service will be seen pretty much “guaranteed” as everything is kept to a high standard of reliability.

Good housekeeping is something that is overlooked too often in the net-cafe industry. Keyboards that get dusty or dirty, monitors with finger marks, broken mouse or keys are all things that can affect your business. Treat it as your home and others will do as well. Let it run down and people will not only stop using your cafe they will also not treat it with respect. Keep everything clean and working.

Have a reliable connection is also important as well as fast. Most companies I come across say that 1mb connection = 10 PC’s but to be honest I think you can do a lot more depending on your setup. Most players at ZoeiTECH don’t use the internet connection for anything more than Youtube and Facebook. Generally at least 60% of the people on the machines won’t even be using that either as they are busy playing LAN games such as counterstrike. It comes down to checking what customers your likely to have and adapting to it.

Add-on services are a must. Things such as computer repairs, mobile phone top ups and a snack/coffee bar are all small add-ons to your business that not only increase enjoyment it keeps people there and brings in new ones. If your hungry and the net-cafe has no food you are likely to go as soon as your time runs out right? But what if you can just walk to the counter grab some fries and continue chatting? Another hour maybe? and a sale of fries was made.

Be realistic on your pricing, no point having the latest PC’s and adding extra unless your competitions machines are really bad! Find the local rate and match it. You can run promos on your quite nights to try and drum up trade but initially set your pricing to the market level.

Installing a comfort room is also important as it keeps people in your building. They may also go to your net-cafe even if its further than someone else’s purely because they can go to the toilet before starting their computer session.

Thinking of starting a net-cafe in the Philippines? Please ask questions below for FREE advice.