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Just Say No

Providing great service is vital to your business, but so is knowing where to draw the line.

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This story appears in the October 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Counter Culture Coffee Inc. is a 36-employee wholesale firm in Durham, North Carolina, that supplies organic and conventional coffee to 500 clients, ranging from restaurants and coffee shops to large grocers such as Whole Foods. But as Counter Culture co-founder Brett Smith knows, some customers can be a real grind. Three years ago, the company negotiated with a potential customer who asked for a better price and extra brewing equipment. Counter Culture gave in on both counts, but it wasn't enough. "They kept asking for more," says Smith, 42. At one point, the prospect even asked Smith to pay for an advertising campaign. After eight months, Counter Culture walked away.

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