The question of charging laptops

First of all, we are reprinting, in it's entirety, an email received yesterday. It brings up an issue which is shared by some customers and we are happy to respond.

  • I note your odd policy of not allowing charging of customer laptops and so did a little research that I thought might be helpful for you. To charge an average laptop for a year uses about 72kwhs of electricity, so about 0.2kwhs per day. A KWh costs around 11p but for my calculations I'll assume your over paying at 15p. If 10 people fully charge their laptops every day of the year your cost will be £109.50 per year. Assuming your margin is just 10% this means each laptop customer needs to spend on average 30p per visit for you to break even. Or to put it differently, if the average expenditure per customer is £5, you only need 6% of these potential customers per week to buy something to break even. Or looking at it another way if less than 1 in 10 leave and don't buy anything because of your policy you are losing money. This analysis of course ignores lifetime value of the customers, their family and friends that might visit in the future if they had a positive experience., etc Perhaps you could put something or your blog that explains the policy as it doesn't make much sense to me. Thanks

  • Email

The calculations of expenditure of electricity are incontrovertible and thanks for going to the trouble of looking in to this aspect. Taken in isolation, it does seem a small price to pay. However, for us, it does not include what we consider to be the more pertinent issue.

While this absolutely does not apply to everyone who would wish to charge and use their laptops during their time at the cafe, there is a percentage who will spend many hours working, playing games or checking their communications. So we move in to the area of table usage. Most small cafes necessarily rely on a fluid turnover of tables, so 'losing' tables for long periods is the issue we are concerned with.

Essentially, each table has to host a certain number of transactions a day. A long staying customer may well purchase more items, compared with other customers. However, it is still relatively low compared to the multiple customers whom could have occupied this space over the same time period.

Each independent café will have a different policy on this issue; not supplying wifi, frequently asking customers if they would like another drink, charging for time, or simply allocating a much higher margin on all their products to compensate for those customers who wish to stay for long periods.

Our version, which we state on the menu, and in the window, is that we do not supply electricity for the charging of laptops or mobiles. We have found that this is acceptable to the majority of our customers, many of whom use their laptops while here.

Our own focus is on the quality and range of the food and drinks on offer, in pleasant and comfortable surroundings.

We hope these things can compensate for this particular issue with our customers, their family and friends.

Yours sincerely, Lisa

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