I'm really fortunate that I live across the street from an independent coffee shop. For many years, it served hot coffee, crafted great drinks, and accepted packages for anyone in the neighborhood. Recently, the coffee's been tepid, the baristas high, and the package acceptance service eliminated.

Today, a shiny new Starbucks opens less than 2 blocks away and my independent coffee shop has not undertaken a single step to appreciate the scores of customers that it has developed over the years. I think that, among the whirring of espresso shots, I heard the death knell of my neighborhood shop, whose rusty service and stodgy beliefs have demonstrated to its customers that they, like the Dude, are just abiding.

Everyday, someone's trying to snipe one of your practice's customers, whether via price, service, or rebates. What are you doing to love your customers who you've developed and to protect them from your competition, who wants to do their work? I'd start with a handwritten note to each of them with an invitation to check-in over coffee of lunch. I'm reminded of a 1980s United Airlines TV commercial about a business losing its biggest customer. Go out and love yours. I'd be more than happy to share some ideas how to do it.

What will do you when Starbucks opens in your neighborhood?