It’s easier and less costly than you think to offer clients Internet access at your salon.
“The people who are our guests are multi-taskers. They want to use their time as efficiently as possible and our Wi-Fi enables them to do that,” says Alexandria Benter, manager of Rejuvenation Spa in Madison, Wis. “It’s a great selling point. It’s just something else that has set us apart from our competitors. We are making our customers’ experiences here more luxurious.”
At Rejuvenation, customers can bring in their own laptops and access the Internet while waiting for services, receiving pedicures, or having their hair done. The successful idea was spawned three years ago soon after the opening of the salon when the mostly white-collar clientele started requesting Internet service. Located on the west side of Madison, the salon is surrounded by four hospitals and a business district. Benter estimates that 80% of her clientele are working professionals.
Debbie Doerrlamm, webmaster of BeautyTech.com, cautions that there can be great risk involved in offering Wi-Fi service in salons. “Setting up a public Wi-Fi spot is not rocket science, nor do I believe it is very expensive,” she says, “But if it is not done properly, it could put the users and the host system at risk of hacking and break-ins.
“Anyone who uses Wi-Fi hot spots should be sure to have extra security enabled on their own laptop, cell phone, or whatever they are using,” she adds. She recommends Jwire.com’s Wi-Fi Helper, which is available for PC users.
Benter, however, says she’s never encountered any security issues such as viruses or hackers. Her salon purchased a Wi-Fi router rather than several desktops to reduce the risk of security issues like the transfer of data from her computers. Her customers bring in their own laptops and work on their own servers. An IT company she hired has also installed antivirus and spyware software on all nine of the salon’s personal computers, which also all require different passwords for access.
Salon owners should also be happy to learn that while Wi-Fi access can be secure and safe for everyone involved, it is also relatively easy. Individuals can choose between hiring a company to set up the equipment and security, or installing the equipment themselves for a cheaper rate. For the latter option, software, equipment, and router can typically be purchased for around $100. One simply needs to contact a local Internet provider and then have Internet access installed either through cable or DSL.
Next, for Wi-Fi service, a wireless router must be installed and the salon owner must choose between unsecured wireless connectivity, also known as a hot spot, or secured wireless connectivity, which requires that laptop users be given passwords for Internet access. Many believe the latter option is much safer when it comes to viruses and hacking because of the password that is necessary for access.
Hot spots, on the other hand, allow almost anyone within a certain distance to access a network. If they do choose to create a hot spot, however, salon owners can limit the number of users for that hot spot through a password or their provider. Salon owners should also be aware that the greater the number of users on any Internet connection, the slower the Internet speed will be.