Anywhere you have unattended computers like Internet café, public kiosk workstation or computer class, many times you need to use a café timer.
Now, if you are asking: "Cafe what? huh?", café timer is simply a program, installed on all your computers.
This piece of software locks and unlocks your workstation according to how much time people can to use your computer.
For example in any Internet café, you would usually approach a cashier and ask to use a computer for a certain time. Most of the time, cashier will give you a code, that works like one of those telephone calling cards. You punch in the code and it will let you work for say 10 minutes and then lock you out.
I would say this software is a must, because you don’t want to run around counting how much each person has to pay you, by hand. It’s horrible. What’s even more horrible is have to pay somebody to do it for you manually.
Guess what you will be doing all day, if you do not have this software?
One of these two things:
1. Running around after people and
2. Arguing about the charges you need to apply to their credit cards.
Perhaps it is fun up to some point, if you have two computers and you like talking to your customers all the time.
If you have twenty… Forget it.
Now, that we got this out-of-the-way, let’s look at what you should and should not do with café timer.
Definitely use a professional software specifically designed for this purpose.
It is very convenient and saves you a lot of problems.
I mean, I don’t even know how to do it any other way to be honest. How can you efficiently lock people out of your computer after some time without a special software. So you do need that… Check!
Do configure your workstation with a strong security in mind
Always make sure your Windows user that executes everything does not have any admin or power user privileges. You do NOT want that. There is never any justification for that, any software should run under a regular user. In fact, create the most limited user you can make and do not let any access to your disk except read only access to Windows system directories. I show you how to do it in my café software secrets email series.
Do NOT rely entirely only on your café timer.
I mean it’s good piece of software, but it doesn’t replace an anti-virus. Nor does it replace a backup. Trust me, nothing replaces backup, because If you are like me and you never do any backups, you will be very, very, VERY sorry one day. I have been there, I know.
Do check and clean your registry from time to time.
Running timer software and other programs will clutter your registry. I show you a good, free registry cleaner in my email series, so go sign up, download it and use it. There is no excuse not to.
Do use screen lock feature of your café management program.
This feature provides a more secure option for controlling your systems and does not allow users to use the computers at all without the screen-lock being deactivated. This golden feature will allow you to sit planted on your chair instead of running around.
Do lock your computer box in a table.
There are "shut down" and "restart" buttons there usually. Although café software will recover from lost power, why risk it? I found my clients had less hardware problems and service interruptions when you lock your computers up. Make sure you have adequate ventilation in the box, otherwise, you will fry your computers very quickly. So give then a breather.
Do consider installing a close circuit camera in the room where computers are…
At least keep this in mind for the future. I do know a few people, where it came in very handy (they asked me not to go into details about their stories, but lets just say it saved them many fees in lawyer’s fee). You do not have to watch and record every computer, but at least the room is nice. No need for minute details.
Do integrate your timer software with your cash register.
Use it, you will not regret it. When the client pays for everything, it will just generate a key for him to unlock a workstation.
Do use up-sells and cross sells.
This is a sneaky trick all marketers use. You can literally double or triple the value of each of your customer by using that single trick. They bought a cup of coffee? Excellent! How about a doughnut to go with it? And since you will be drinking coffee and eating your doughnut, would you like to check your email or access the Internet while you are at it?
See where I am getting at? Offer a price cheaper, than he would otherwise get buying those items separately.
Do buy a rugged keyboard and mouse.
Even if your sign says: "No food and drinks beyond this point", be ready, that a lot of people will ignore it. If you invest in rugged keyboard and mouse, you will not even have to put up a sign. If they spill coffee or juice on your keyboard – no problem. You can just wash it with soap and in 5 minutes it’s gone.
Now that I gave you these tips I know about café timer software, let me give you specific information on how to apply them in your case