I found this article on “How a Small Business Becomes a Big Business” very instructive. Please note particularly:
“It probably sounds trite but it is not. Around here, people shop at Abt the way they go to their mother’s for Thanksgiving. They just go. There is little reason to go anywhere else. The selection is wide and deep, and the prices are competitive. After shopping around a few times, many of us come to the conclusion that we are just wasting time.
The store’s slogan has long been, “The answer is yes — to any reasonable request.” I recently asked a retailer-to-retailer question of Jon Abt, one of four sons who are running the business along with Bob Abt, the family patriarch (and son of David): Do you lose money on some sales to pay off the “Yes” in your slogan? “Every day,” he responded. I assumed as much. I don’t believe you can promise great service and not lose money on some sales. It is the cost of doing business, or at least the cost of doing business well. To me it seems obvious that you can afford to lose some money on a sale more than you can afford to lose a customer.
I asked another question that I suspected I knew the answer to: Do you ever say no? “Absolutely,” he said. An honest man. Here is a little known fact in these days of promotional books and press releases about “customer-driven” companies. Every company has to say no occasionally, because some customers make requests that are, as Abt suggests in its slogan, unreasonable. What’s unreasonable? Bob Abt cites the example of someone who owns an appliance for five years and then decides to return it. If you find this hard to believe, you have never worked in retail. But again, that is another story.”