Transparency is a concept that I have been reflecting on for quite sometime. I’m in an industry that is so wrought with intentional misdirection, slight of hand, and blatant lying, that it sometimes feels like a cross between a magic show and the haunted house of horrors. The industry insiders call it, "Giving them the facts without the details," "The bait and switch," “Hook ads," and "Closing the sale." I’ve always respected the likes of: David Copperfield, David Blane, Harry Houdini, and Chris Angel. These men have made their fame and fortune through the art of deception. It wasn’t long after I became a professional salesman that I realized many in this industry were doing the same thing. There’s one very important distinction! The customers of the likes of Copperfield, Blane, and the others know that they are paying for the deception. Watching T.V. advertisements for competitors who are "less than honest," is disheartening to say the least. It quickly became obvious that most Homeowners don’t know that they are paying for the deception. I even had a local News Station do not 1 but 2 separate episodes on multiple people in a company that I had once worked for. It’s not something that I would ever put on my resume, but I do thank God for that wake up call! Apparently, starting a Home Improvement Company and destroying people’s homes and finances isn’t that uncommon. The owners just declare bankruptcy, change the name of the company, or work legal loopholes while the general public is unaware.... These are just a few examples of what’s wrong with the Home Improvement Industry. It’s amazing to me because one of the episodes on the company that I had worked for was a story about a lady who had almost $40,000 taken from her. The guys who did it, took the money, started some of the work, and left the majority unfinished. Not only was the market value of a project like that much less than $40,000, but they didn’t even complete the job! The story aired after I started with a company that I really believed had the customers’ best interest at heart, and yet I had been wrong before... Something that resonated deeply with me is that when my new boss heard us talking about the story and what happened to this poor lady, he decided to do something about it. And he wasn’t alone. I’m still astonished over the fact that I worked with one of the guys who did this, and that I work with the men that fixed it. The local news station did a follow up piece on what our company did to rebuild this Lady’s house. Everybody that participated in helping right this wrong felt great about being able to correct an offensive situation. As a natural cynic, it helped me see something that I wasn’t used to... people helping each other without any ulterior motives. It set me in the midst of a crossroad. Something that I always wanted began to form in my mind along with a question that I pondered, and then began to put into action. Can I be transparent and still survive? It was scary at 1st. It’s one thing to be honest. That’s not the same as transparency. Honesty means I don’t lie. But those who are practiced at the art of deception, know how to deceive without lying. Don’t believe me? Watch Politicians pretend to answer questions! The reality is that there are people making millions who are legally taking advantage of their customers by charging exorbitant mark ups and using high pressure sales tactics. The "low ballers" are just as bad for a multitude of reasons.... A very sad fact is that the Industry is probably the best it’s ever been at transparency. With online reviews, technology, T.V. Shows on Home Improvements, and the Internet, Home Owners are the best armed they’ve ever been to make an informed decision, and yet.... the problems are rampant within an industry that I love! In my last blog you went on a "shock and awe" journey with me as I Unleashed the Power Within Fire walking! For quite sometime, I’ve believed that I would navigate the treacherous waters filled with Piranha and Sharks for my customer’s, but for the most part, I was powerless to make any real changes to the industry. It discouraged me that I felt that I had to settle for only helping the few people that I come into contact with each year. Every time that I got a “No," I felt discouraged because I knew that unlike my Fire walking Experience, they were probably going to get burned! I failed... and then one day that all changed! While listening to the stories of Industry Disruptors, and the idea that there is nothing that is hidden that won’t be revealed because of technology, every email, text message and phone called is tracked and recorded. I realized that the technology is there to make the changes which will transform this Industry for the better! I was struck with a concept so powerful that there are moments.... I don’t know if it will destroy the Industry or be exactly what is needed to lift it out of the current state! Either way something has gotta change! Then I realized another powerful revelation, I can be a part of that change throughout the Industry! What I’ve been doing for years has laid out the groundwork, and now it’s time to build a bigger, and better model of transparency for the entire industry. So the question is how does transparency work for the greater good? I believe that what’s good for the Homeowner also has to be good for the Contractor. Some people believe that it is a battle in which 1 has to win and the other has to lose.... a zero sum game of winners and losers. That’s not me! That’s not many of the people I’ve met, work with, and work for. It is the attitude of too many within this Industry and we’re going to weed them out. They’re going to have either change their tactics, or change their careers! There are others out there who want what’s best, what’s right, and I have come to believe that if we empower people with the right information, they will make the right decisions. How does that look in practical terms? We save our customers lots of time, we make it fun and easy to do business, we show them all their options and let them choose what’s best for them, and we make sure that the purchase has no risk. You want to risk thousands of dollars? Go to the Casino! A few decades ago, the industry changed from 2 extremes. At 1 time you were faced with either, "Pete and his pickup," or a con man with a Cadillac. You couldn’t trust either one. Then the Industry forced a change in which the participants were more professional... they all began to look and sound the same. Everyone claimed to be the best using only the best materials. Now we’re going to arm the HO with transparency and a risk free investment!