Jan 28, 2019


by Roger Wilkerson

What Makes a Great Client?

Successful leader

I was recently asked a very simple question that really caught me off guard. While presenting Little Healthcare’s qualifications to a Hospital design and construction department, we were discussing our experience, our clients and the projects that we have developed with these clients.  When we presented our relationship with Conway Medical Center in Conway, South Carolina, I made a quick comment that they are a great client.  We were then asked the very simple question:

 “What makes them a great client?”  The answer to this question goes beyond a professional response and includes a personal one, also.  I was asked this question about 30 days prior to the former CEO of Conway Medical Center, Phil Clayton, retiring.  He had been employed by the hospital for 37 years and had been the CEO for the last 26 years.  Our relationship with the hospital has spanned 17 years and has developed into a special professional/personal one.  I remember calling on the former Facilities Director and getting advice from his assistant on what to do and not to do at Myrtle Beach Biker Week (no, I never went and, by the way, her name was Bunny, for what it’s worth). I remember hacking my way through a golf game with Phil who happens to be a very, very serious golfer.  While we ended up not playing a lot of golf together, he still worked with us for 17 years.  We have developed three consecutive 5 – year Master Facility Plans and are about to start on the fourth with the new CEO.

So, back to the question.  Hmmm.  Why do we consider them such a great client?  After a moment’s pause, the answer became clear and it was threefold: Trust, Values and Commitment.  

Trust.  Little’s relationship with Conway Medical Center has spanned over 17 years and has become one of deep trust in each other and respect in what each team member brings to the table. They are an organization deeply rooted in integrity and this comes through each day and in all aspects of the organization.  This respect and trust has been evident in our working relationship, how we are treated and is also evident in how the patients, visitors, staff and physicians are treated and treat each other.

Values.  One of the first efforts our team was involved with at Conway was leading the hospital through a Master Facility Plan.  As with most hospital master plans, this looked at the majority of the Medical Center’s departments, their potential growth needs and opportunities, conceptual solutions and the prioritizing of these solutions. Conway’s leadership (their Board and Administration) understands and values this process.  They know that, for a Master Plan to be successful, it must be firmly rooted in the Hospital’s Strategic Plan and they also understand that a lot of “what ifs” can result in creative solutions.  The value placed on planning has resulted in many years of well thought out, structured and methodical facility growth.  Leadership credits these mater planning efforts for never having to spend money twice, a strong testament for a business to make.

Commitment.  Conway Medical Center is an independent hospital that is fiercely committed to its community.  They understand that, each and every day, they are impacting the lives of their friends and neighbors.  This commitment is shared throughout the organization.  Conway Medical Center personalizes healthcare for all of those who touch their organization.  This commitment mirrors our own here at Little, and we have had the honor of solving for commitment in their facilities.   In essence, what makes a great client is one with who we can work transparently, collaboratively, and whole-heartedly to bring a clear vision into reality by working over a period of time to achieve impact.  We’ve been fortunate to have that kind of working relationship with Conway and we actively work to foster that same kind of relationship with each of our clients, whether for one small project, or a decades-long engagement.


Roger Wilkerson

A rare Charlotte native with a heart that bleeds Clemson orange, Roger is the healthcare studio's national practice leader at Little. He has over 30 years of experience in management and healthcare design. Roger meets with clients to review performance and consistently finds ways to improve productivity, technology, budgeting, process optimization, and client relations. He has a proven ability to create and lead successful teams that deliver the highest expectations. When he’s not competing in triathlons, out communing with nature as he hunts or catching up on his reading, he can usually be found by following the sound of laughter coming from his family of six.

More from this author