Coffee Shop Owner: Limiting Laptop Squatters Has Boosted My Sales

Ever since the advent of the whole coffee-shop-as-satellite-office thing, some have operated under the notion that java joints should do what they can to cater to and keep customers sitting in seats for hours on end while they toil on their laptops. But one store owner says his business has actually seen an increase in sales after he decided to put limits on the laptop-lugging squatters.

The owner of San Francisco’s Coffee Bar says that customers who use his shop as an aromatic office were putting a squeeze on seating available to other customers during boom hours.

“One of the unforeseen problems was that people stayed a really long time and others who came in couldn’t find seats,” he said. “As a business owner, it broke my heart to turn away business. But at the same time I couldn’t chase off the existing patrons because they might not come back.”

And so he tried things like charging for WiFi, and limiting it to only one-hour per customer. But the most successful plan he’s had is the deployment of “laptop free” tables during the lunch rush.

For two hours in the middle of each day, around one-third of the Coffee Bar’s 65 seats are given this no-computers designation. Customers are limited to sitting at these seats for only around 30 minutes and signs on the affected tables make it clear that computers are not welcome during those hours.

By giving lunch customers places to sit for a bit while also allowing space for the laptop crowd to peck away at their keyboards, the owner says business has gone up by 15 to 20%.

“We unclogged the clog,” he tells the San Francisco Chronicle. “We made it work for the office workers in the area who wanted to grab a quick lunch. Now they can actually get a table.

[via The Atlantic]