Transparency in Design

Transparency in Design photo from DTTSP via Capella Kincheloe

How transparent are you in business?  Stop and think about that for a minute.

Here is another question: Have you had any client issues that could have been avoided by greater transparency?

Transparency is behaving with openness, free communication, and accountability.  Transparency is information clarity and strongly related to integrity.

If you are fighting against transparency, meaning that you don't share exactly how you charge with clients or they don't know what you're paying for items you are creating uncertainty at best and at worst, suspicion.  Why is this?

In an interior design business integrity and transparency can't be separated anymore.  There is too much information out there - the whole world is becoming more transparent.  Getting information is too easy, so if you are holding it back, it looks like you are hiding something.

So you should stop fighting.  You can't stop progress.  I don't mean this to sound trite, but it's you against the information age.

Did you know that if you show a client a photo of an item, they can do an image search and find out the manufacturer and where to buy and often, how much multiple vendors are selling it for?

So just one simple image search can give your clients the transparency that they desire.  So where does that leave you, the interior designer who is trying to keep that information from the client?

You want your clients to feel like you're on their side.  That you are their advocate, doing things for their best interest.

Isn't that why you hire someone, isn't that why you hire a lawyer, hire an accountant, hire a web designer, hire a house cleaner, hire a babysitter?  To play on your team, to be your support?

So put yourself in your client's shoes.  How would you feel if you discovered someone you'd been paying to play on your team was not being transparent with you?

Interior design already has a reputation for deception and as the representatives of the industry, we should be doing everything we can to combat this, not perpetuate it.

It is possible to be radically transparent.  

There are companies that are doing this like Everlane.  A clothing company that shares their cost to make the clothes and shares where it was made.

Another is Pat Flynn and his Smart Passive Income website, where he shares his income reports online for whoever is interested.

When you increase transparency you increase trust, which is essential when you are working in someone's home, their sanctuary.

Being transparent means that you don't have to worry about clients discovering prices, you don't have to be concerned that they'll find out where you are shopping, you don't have to think about how much to markup.

You don't have to worry because you have nothing to hide.

I'd love to hear how you practice transparency and what you think of this idea in the comments below.

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