End of conversation. End of interaction. End of sale. End of business.
There are millions of products out there. You have 5,000 in your store. The chances are pretty good that your customers will ask you for something you do not have. How your staff answers goes a long way towards your success.
Do they ask why?
Do they offer alternatives?
Do they give explanations?
Do they offer help in finding the item?
If you are hiring friendly, helpful, caring people they might already do this just because of who they are. If they are not, then you need to train them that when the customer asks, “Do you have…?” they need to know how to respond.
PS You are probably thinking, “Aren’t we all hiring friendly, helpful people?” In theory, yes. But in practice most store owners tell me this is the hardest part of their job. It was for me, too. Until I learned a secret. Quit hiring for experience and start hiring for character traits. You can read all about it in my book Hiring and the Potter’s Wheel: Turning Your Staff Into a Work of Art. The book is $19.99 plus S&H. Far less than the cost of one more hiring mistake. You should buy it. You can read it in one sitting. Yes, one sitting. It will make a difference.