Okay. Maybe not quite naughty. But certainly not good.

During a recent call with a prospective client, in addition to sharing the usual project information, he let me know he and his wife were interviewing multiple architects. I was architect number three. I was a bit surprised as I had not heard that from a prospect in a long time. Not necessarily because I’m most homeowners one and only phone call (my ego isn’t that big!), but because some are not as forthcoming about their own process.

However, they had received four referrals, and in doing due diligence, wanted to speak with each one to get a feel for each architect. I take the same approach when discussing contractor selection with clients. Unless you’ve worked with someone before, take the time to talk with several and get a feel for who you think will be the best fit.

And as we were meeting at their house last week (yes, I was selected), I asked how the phone call with architect number four had gone only to find out it hadn’t. Architect number four did not return their call. My immediate thought?

Naughty! Naughty businessperson!!

Because why wouldn’t you return a phone call from a prospective client? I know as architecture students we are given zero schooling when it comes to business. However, I would think that would be rule number one for any architect with their own practice. Or at least somewhere in the top five. No matter how busy you are, you always return a call from a prospective client, especially when someone has been referred to you.

Of course, I can’t speak to their situation. Perhaps the project just wasn’t something they were going to be interested in or was outside of their wheelhouse. Except every architect has a friend or two who we can and do refer projects to. You can always call back and say no thanks but talk with “X” and they can help. “X” will appreciate the thought.

Perhaps they have yet to go through a slowdown, where returning a call might mean the difference between staying open or going to work for someone else. Not the best position to be in. However, anyone with more than ten years of experience has seen how the market can ebb and flow. Or sometimes just ebb.

Or perhaps that was the week they were hit by a crosstown bus. This is Dallas after all. We’ve all been cut off more than once by a DART driver acting like he was at the Indy 500 instead of barreling down Elm Street in downtown. Nothing like watching a bus cut across three lanes, immediately hit their brakes, and then hang a hard left, traffic be damned.

But no matter the reason, I was still disappointed as a business owner to hear that the client had not received a return call. And after 25 years of working in the field, to me that just seemed a bit naughty.