Ah yes, the business world would be a great place, and so much easier to make a buck, if it weren’t 
for the client.  Unfortunately, many have that attitude.  The client, of course, is any business’ 
reason for existence.  Trying to figure out what the client wants, and being able to deliver, is what 
it’s all about.
Numerous independent studies have been done, in the construction industry as well as others, 
trying to find out if there’s a pattern as to why some businesses fail while others in the same 
market succeed.  Invariably, the businesses that succeed are the ones that are pleasing their 
customers... no mystery there.  But what’s more interesting is the fact that what a client wants and what they say they want are two separate things.  The real dilemma is, how do you know what your client wants if they won’t tell you?
In a recent survey by one of the construction industry associations, building owners were asked what they wanted in a building.  Their answers, in order of importance, were: functionality/accessibility, design impact, quality of construction, and cost.  Total cost of the facility, while a consideration, was fourth.  When most designers are asked what the building owner wanted in a facility, the number one response was price, with functionality, design, and quality of construction further down the list.
Obviously, something is wrong here.  Price, we’re all told, has always been the number one consideration in any construction project.  But if the final price is so important, why are more and more building owners hiring independent consultants in order to ensure a quality project?  That consultant, I might add, is probably hired for his/her reputation rather than what they charge.  The building owner is obviously willing to add to the low price he/she negotiated in order to get the quality project that they desire.
When was the last time you purchased a car with no options or didn’t end up upgrading to a better model entirely?  If all we wanted was basic transportation, as many of us claim, we would all be driving Yugos and Yugo dealerships would dot the landscape.  Such is not the case.  The average car sells for $30,000+.  We don’t want Yugos.  Then why are so many design professionals insistent on selling a Yugo facility?
While a low price may open the door, it’s to the benefit of all concerned to offer options to the owner.  A repeat client situation, whether residential or commercial, lends itself to upgrading the proposed new project.  Does the owner want the same type of facility and repeat the same problems he/she had in the past?  Of course not, and you can help them solve those problems with better design and materials.  After all, you aren’t a run-of-the-mill architect, you’re an expert in the field and you know better than anyone how to solve their problem with a quality-oriented design that will give them the security blanket they need (and want).  
Total quality control starts with the design but doesn’t end with the final payment.  Follow up after the project is completed to make sure the owner is a happy camper.  This will enhance your reputation as someone that can be trusted and ensure future references

Marcus Dodson
editor & publisher
Customer Satisfaction
The Difference Between What a 
Client Asks for & What They Really Want