Friday, September 09, 2005

L.L. Bean

Leon Leonwood Bean, a hunting enthusiast, returned home one day with cold wet feet and resolved to solve the problem for good by making a boot with a rubber sole sewn to a leather top. He had solved the problem that needed solving, and hunters lined up to snatch up the boots as fast as he could make them. When 90 of the first 100 pair were returned for stitching failures, L.L. instituted his famous policy--"I do not consider a sale complete until the goods are worn out and the customer is still satisfied"--and issued full refunds. That was the birth of L.L. Bean, the company.

As his business grew, he moved out of his basement to a store on the main street of Freeport, Maine. Never wanting to be too far from his work, he took a house right next to the store so he could keep a close eye on his business. Thanks to the quality of the products and his total commitment to keeping his customers happy, the legions of his enthusiastic customers and his business kept growing until he ran into a major problem.

The main street of Freeport, Maine, lies on US Route 1, a heavily traveled artery of the northeast. Some customers, especially hunters, driving by at odd hours and finding the store closed, would knock on his door and request some item they urgently needed.Not wanting to disappoint a customer, he would get his key, open the store, and sell them the items they needed. With the spectacular growth of his customers, combined with increasing prevalence of cars, this was becoming an unmanageable situation.

One day in 1951, he walked into the store and removed the lock on the front door. Since then, the store has remained open and more than three million people pass through the store each year.

Here is a timeline of L.L. Bean.

"I attribute our success to the fact that, to the best of my judgment, every article we offer for sale is practical for the purpose for which we recommend it."

"Guaranteed. You have our Word. Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in every way. Return anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise. We do not want you to have anything from LL Bean that is not completely satisfactory."

-- Shrikant Rangnekar

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