Telling the truth about SME life today

The entrepreneurial rule breakers

“A good customer who returns an item a couple of days late without the receipt should be given the courtesy she requires and not be made to feel uncomfortable,” says Tenison, who set up the £18.5m-turnover maternity and childwear firm in 1993. “She is much more likely to return and buy again.”

She’s not the only entrepreneur who believes it pays to break the rules.

When John Timpson, chairman of the eponymous high-street cobbler and heel-bar chain called in on one of his shops in the centre of Taunton a few months ago, there was a dog standing on the counter.

“If this was unusual, what followed was bizarre,” says Timpson. “Geoff, a lifelong shoe repairer got out his tape measure to measure the dog. ‘What’s all this about?’ I asked. ‘Well’ said the customer, ‘I ride a scooter and the dog goes in the basket. For ages I’ve been wanting a special leather jacket so he can join the biker’s brigade, and your man here has promised to do it for me.’

When Timpson checked back week later, the jacket had been made and fitted perfectly. “I’m sure it cost a lot more than the £20 we charged the customer, but I’m equally sure it did the business a lot of good,” he says.

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