The more I thought about the owner's answer, I decided he is a genius. Imagine if everywhere you went, you were treated like family. Starbucks practically thrives on this concept. Think about it. Most of us pay $5.00 a day for coffee because the cups are adorned with our names and most of the time the man or woman making our coffee calls out our name with a friendly smile.
If you really want to "treat em' like family" then you have to start within your own office. I watched the deli owner talk to his staff as if they were his brothers and sisters. If you can create a family-like environment at your office then your internal customer service will float outwards.
Think relationships more than business deals if you want to have a family-atmosphere within your business. If you treat potential customers like potential profit then you're dead in the water. Treat potential customers like you would a sister or brother-in-law. Be cordial, be genuine and talk about what both parties have to gain from a long relationship. Don't just go after a person's dollar, go after their recommendation and continued business.
Finally, be respectful of everyone. The deli owner I mentioned has a customer who comes in every morning and buys a single two dollar coffee. He sits in a booth (taking up three seats versus a single seat at the counter) and he stays for hours. The waitresses aren't annoyed and the owner sits and talks with him daily. The owner could say something about the money he is losing on each cover that walks out because a booth isn't available, or how there is more than a coffee minimum to sit at the booth, but he doesn't. He appreciates the business and the brand loyalty. In fact the owner told me this about the man in the booth, "I don't know his full story. I don't know why he comes here for his coffee. I'm glad he trusts us enough to serve him coffee everyday. We could lose the two dollars to the expensive franchise down the street. I rather have customers I know who like what I'm serving then fight over numbers with the competition."
As we head into the weekend, think about how you can treat your customers more like family.