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Are Small Practices More Resilient Than We Think?

When I was in high school, a national hardware retailer opened a new franchise down the street from the mom-and-pop hardware store that had served my neighborhood for many years. Since the new store had the advantage of larger volumes and lower costs, it seemed to be only a matter of time before it drove its smaller competitor out of business, the way that big bookstore chains and fast-food restaurants had already vanquished theirs. But a funny thing happened on the way to the inevitable. By the time I left for college, the new hardware store had folded, and the mom-and-pop operation had moved into their former building. How did this small business manage to retain its customers and win new ones? The answer was quality of service. I remember visiting the mom-and-pop store when a classmate and I were working on a physics project. There, the owner himself happily held forth for several minutes on the advantages and disadvantages of various types of epoxy adhesive. It was a special and unique experience. Read more...