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Case Study

 

Case Study: Comparative WiFi Solutions at Quack’s 43rd Street Bakery, Austin Texas

Comparative Study of WiFi Solutions at Quack’s 43rd Street Bakery, Austin Texas 

 

 

“Customers expect free, reliable, internet access in the coffeehouses and fast-casual restaurants that they patronize.   Less Networks® enables operators to offer and maintain a high-quality internet service with a minimum of hassle.”

 

Art Silver
Operator, Quack’s Bakeries

Summary

The venue is an Austin icon providing bakery goods and coffee drinks to the local neighborhood and beyond.  The business understands that WiFi is part of the coffee shop culture and must provide it to remain competitive.  The business also owns a lesser-known venue in a different neighborhood and would like to improve business there by marketing it to the customers of their primary location.  After providing an unsupported anonymous WiFi service using an off-the-shelf access point, the venue switched to a higher quality for-pay WiFi provider.  Eventually, after losing its competitive edge, the venue switched to Less Networks® < Free WiFi to get the best of both worlds — free WiFi for its customers and a commercial-grade solution delivering the service reliability the business needed.

 

Anonymous WiFi and the Open Access Point

Quack’s has had WiFi service for several years, dating back to 2002.  At that time, WiFi was still new and there was a greater need for customer hand-holding and support.  Originally, the venue deployed an anonymous WiFi service using an off-the-shelf wireless access point attached to their business class broadband connection.  A desktop in the back office shared this connection in an unsecure configuration, inadvertently allowing customers unauthorized access to the business’s office computer.  This was a common misconfiguration of a shared network at that time and still prevails in many small businesses today.  There were several incidents of outages and it was unclear if the access point was the problem, the ISP, or the customers’ laptops.  Unfortunately, the baristas were unable to provide much help with the increasing number of questions about how to use WiFi.  In order to stay focused on their core business of food and drink, the venue sought out a commercial solution.

 

For-Pay WiFi

The for-pay solution seemed like a great idea at the time.  It provided the customers with the hand-holding they needed and allowed the venue staff to focus on its core business.  In addition, it secured the shared broadband connection with the backoffice desktop.  WiFi customers were now required to login after creating an account with billing information.  Pricing was competitive with Starbucks and afforded the venue with better customer service and overall reliability.  Over time, as customers became familiar with WiFi and needed less technical assistance, the value received from the paid WiFi solution was diminished.  As a result, the venue began to experience complaints and business loss from customers who would rather patronize a venue with free WiFi.  After a year, another solution was needed.

 

Commercial-grade Free WiFi

The for-pay solution provider agreed that the culture was embracing the notion of free WiFi in coffee shops and restaurants.  It repositioned itself in a market that still accepted for-pay WiFi services and recommended that the venue contact Less Networks® for a commercial-grade Free WiFi solution.  The next morning, the venue’s customers were greeted by a different login screen. Although they were still required to create an account, they were no longer required to supply billing information.  Everyone was happy.

 

Even though it seems like Quack’s completed a full circle, what they discovered was that the business decision to provide wireless meant that they acknowledged that WiFi was critical to their business.  Their original thinking was driven by the need to remain competitive and their evolved thinking showed their need to adapt to the technical demands of their customers and the prevailing need for reliability.  It is clear from their experience that a quality and reliable for-pay WiFi solution was better than unreliable free WiFi or free WiFi with frustrated customers, but commercial-grade free WiFi was better than for-pay WiFi, because the latter started to drive business away.  Ultimately, it was the quality of the customer experience that counted most, and in a free WiFi world, requiring the customer to pay for WiFi detracts from that and impacts the entire business.

 

Best of all breeds

The Less Networks® < Free WiFi solution provided the venue’s customers with the supported they needed and enabled the venue staff to focus on their core business.  But as an added bonus, premium services such as CustomerConnect™ enabled the venue to increase the value they received from their investment in WiFi.  CustomerConnect™ is the only free WiFi solution that helps a venue’s customers connect to the Internet and enables venues to connect to their customers.  Each week, the venue receives an email summarizing their customers’ usage of their WiFi service.  They can see how many individual customers connected and for how long.  They can see how many are repeat customers and how many are new.  Graphs and charts help them see which days of the week and hours of the day got the most WiFi usage.  This helped ease their concerns about table camping and other unauthorized usage.  In other words, Less Networks® CustomerConnect™ is not just a best of breed Free WiFi solution, it’s a best of all breeds—free and for-pay.

 

Calculating ROI

Quack’s was an early adopter of the technology and always had an intuitive understanding that offering WiFi was good for business.  They certainly saw a lot more people in the restaurant and rewired their store to meet the demand for more power outlets.  The sight of more laptops everyday made the importance of the WiFi service self-evident.  The most poignant lesson learned was the number of complaints and the loss of business they had experienced over time after they had switched to a commercial for-pay provider.  Still, what they lacked was a clear measurement of WiFi’s impact on their business.  Using Usage Statistics from their Less Networks Hotspot Control Center, they were able to benchmark their usage and track their progress each month.  Beginning in February 2004, they benchmarked their usage at 802 customer connects per month.  A year later, the usage grew by 228% to 1835 monthly connects.  In 2006, it increased again to 2216.  Today, they are experiencing 2273 monthly connects and have had a total of 82,636 since January 2004.  If each customer connect represents a customer who spent approximately $5 on food and drink during the visit, then we can estimate that WiFi customers generated $413,180 since Quack’s implemented CustomerConnect™  in February 2004.  Of course, this estimate will vary on the type of business.  A car wash typically generates $10 per visit and a hotel generates $60-$300 depending on the market.  But regardless of the business, there’s no doubt that commercial-grade free WiFi pays.  It’s also clear that commercial for-pay WiFi will impact your bottom line if you have a nearby competitor offering free WiFi.

 

 

 

 

Using WiFi for what it is: A sales and marketing tool

Just as Quack’s confirmed their intuitive understanding that free WiFi is good for business, CustomerConect™ enabled them to concretize another intuition — that free WiFi is a sales and marketing tool.  The reason why businesses make free WiFi available to their customers is so that they can remain competitive.  That’s why so many businesses have included “wireless internet inside” among the main messages on their outdoor signage.  With regard to Quack’s, advertising WiFi availability demonstrably increased WiFi-generated business revenue.  But marketing professionals know that customer acquisition begins with the first purchase and continues throughout the entire life-cycle of the customer.  Considerable research and investment has been placed into customer relationship management (CRM) systems and loyalty programs designed to boost repeat business and increase wallet share out of each customer visit.  Less Networks® < Free WiFi CustomerConnect™ is only wireless internet solution that has a built-in customer relationship management system.  For many Less Networks® venues, it may be their first foray into the world of CRM, and CustomerConnect™ makes it easy for them.  For instance, Quack’s opened a new venue that they needed to advertise.  Using the built-in marketing tools in CustomerConnect™, Quack’s was able to send a custom-designed email to each WiFi user at the original location and present them with a special offer redeemable at the new location.  By tracking the number of offers sent against the number of redemptions, Quack’s had the ability to measure the effectiveness of the marketing campaign designed to increase business at the new location.

 


 

+------------+-----------------------+
| Sent On    | Number of Emails Sent |
+------------+-----------------------+
| 2007-02-09 |                    30 |
| 2007-02-10 |                    27 |
| 2007-02-11 |                    36 |
| 2007-02-12 |                    42 |
| 2007-02-13 |                    39 |
| 2007-02-14 |                    32 |
| 2007-02-15 |                    19 |
| 2007-02-16 |                    18 |
| 2007-02-17 |                    18 |
| 2007-02-18 |                    26 |
| 2007-02-19 |                    48 |
| 2007-02-20 |                    35 |
| 2007-02-21 |                    30 |
| 2007-02-22 |                    25 |
| 2007-02-23 |                    17 |
| 2007-02-24 |                    14 |
| 2007-02-25 |                    21 |
| 2007-02-26 |                    38 |
| 2007-02-27 |                    30 |
| 2007-02-28 |                    38 |
+------------+-----------------------+

Total emails sent in February = 583

 

The preceding table shows how many automated CustomerConnect™ offers were sent to Quack’s WiFi customers at the primary location.  Over 90% of these emails went to unique individuals — in other words, customers were not hounded with multiple mailings.  A total of 583 emails were sent.  At the time of this writing, a redemption rate was not available for the case study.  Accounting for the time to identify recipients and manage the campaign, duplication/printing, paper, and postage expense alone, the cost of this coupon-based 30-day marketing campaign would have exceeded $500.  In contrast, CustomerConnect™ automatically managed the campaign by identifying the email recipients and automatically sending out the coded offers.  At the rate of $5 per visit, it would have taken 100 customer visits to break-even with the traditional marketing campaign costs.  CustomerConnect™ allowed Quack’s to break-even with the first visit.  CustomerConnect™ allows the smallest businesses to unlock the power of follow-through marketing — by using WiFi to attract customers to their business and then relying on CustomerConnect™ to remain in touch with them after the leave.

 

Conclusion

Quack’s Bakery was a pioneer among coffee shops by offering WiFi to their customer as early as 2002.  Over the years, they’ve had anonymous free WiFi service (like most coffee shops), commercial for-pay WiFi, and commercial-grade Free WiFi.  What they learned is that unreliable WiFi impacts their business because their customers got frustrated and required assistance — distracting untrained venue staff from their core business responsibilities.  They learned that commercial for-pay WiFi increased reliability but ultimately reduced the businesses’ competitiveness, particularly because there was a nearby competitor offering free WiFi.  They experienced first hand the loss of business as a result of both unreliable free WiFi and commercial for-pay WiFi solutions.

 

When Quack’s switched to Less Networks® < Free WiFi CustomerConnect™ in February 2004, they were able to benchmark their customers’ usage of WiFi and track its growth over time.  They experienced consistent phenomenal growth over 3 years and were able to tie revenues to WiFi usage.  They were able to attribute $413,180 in total revenue contributed by WiFi customers.  These numbers plus the assurance that comes from commercial-grade WiFi confirmed Quack’s intuition that commercial-grade free WiFi is good for business.

 

Finally, when Quack’s launched a second location, they used the built-in Customer Relationship Management tools in CustomerConnect™ to automatically email the WiFi customers of their primary location and incent them to try out their new location.  CustomerConnect™ automatically identified the recipients, emailed the customized messages, and tracked the coupon redemption rates.  This 30-day email-based “new location” marketing campaign broke even with the first customer visit at the new location.  Compared to a traditional campaign, it would have taken about 100 customer visits before reaching the break-even point.

 

About Less Networks®

Less Networks® provides innovative sales and marketing WiFi solutions for public-facing businesses and organizations. Its flagship product, CustomerConnect™, enables venues with free WiFi to transform anonymous wireless internet service into a revenue-driving communications channel that allows a venue’s customers to connect to the Internet and a venue to connect with its customers—even after they leave. It’s the solution that powers the renowned Austin Wireless City Project and propelled that organization to the forefront of public wireless initiatives. 

 

Its consumer product, Less Networks® < Free WiFi, sets the standard for commercial-grade, high-quality free WiFi service. Available in 61 cities around the world, Less Networks® < Free WiFi hotspots connect mobile users to the Internet over 25,000 times each month.  Major brands that offer Less Networks® < Free WiFi in their venues include Baja Fresh®, Burger King®, Dairy Queen®, Days Inn®,  and Sleep Inn®. 

 

Founded in 2003, Less Networks® is headquartered in Austin, Texas.

 

Contact

 

Less Networks, LLC

P.O. Box 4721, Austin Texas 78765

+1 800 929 8891 / +44 207 043 9229

sales @ lessnetworks.com

www.lessnetworks.com