The competitive market underscores the importance of avoiding behaviors that frustrate homeowners. Marla Selko, owner of Urban Referrals, has distilled those pet peeves into six general areas:

  • Slow follow-up. Respond quickly to inquiries, preferably within 24 hours.
  • Unkept promises. Set and meet your own deadlines, but be sure to work sufficient time into those schedules.
  • Ambiguity. Frankly discuss budget and time frame, and ask if there are any events that could affect the schedule.
  • Mutual mystification. Don't presume that each party understands the other's concepts of schedule, design, or anything else orally discussed. Put all details in writing, and jointly sign off on changes.
  • Avoidance. Own up to problems or surprises. There's nothing worse than bad news delivered at the last minute, Selko says.
  • Apples to oranges. Ask who else they're talking to, and be prepared to explain how you're different, especially if you cost more. Encourage them to check you out.

Learn more about Urban Referrals, with operations in the D.C. and Phoenix areas, at