INDEPENDENT NETWORK CELEBRATES 25 YEARS – AN INTERVIEW WITH KAREN LUND
September 1, 2021
In 1996, with the double glazing industry still in its infancy, a new network launched to bring peace of mind to consumers putting quality at the heart of the experience of installing new windows and doors.
This year Independent Network celebrates it’s 25th birthday and is still driven by the core values that demanded its inception.
Karen Lund, Head of Partner Programmes at Independent Network talks to us about the milestone. Karen has been with Network since 2006 coming in and working through administration, membership sales, looking after the installers in the south, looking at business services and business solutions and when John retired five years ago she took on the reins of the organisation.
Q: What makes Independent Network special?
Today we still stand for the same core values that launched the organisation 25 years ago – delivering a consumer message recognising quality installers and fabricators that want to be at the forefront of driving standards in the industry. We’ve still got members today who joined at the very beginning of Network’s journey evolving their business as we have evolved the network.
Q. What are the core values of Independent Network?
This year we are looking at our core values once again – the services and benefits of being a member.
Our core values include the Insurance Back Guarantee, the peace of mind the Independent Network brings consumers and the training we can offer our members from training the people in the business through to recruitment support. Consumer expectations are higher than ever, through our technical services team we can offer mediation services and resolve their concerns before they escalate, which can become costly for all.
Q. What do the members want from Independent Network?
Ultimately they want support, a business solution to suit them and to be recognised by VEKA as a premium installer.
Q. What is the most important message from Independent Network?
Our most important message…we’re here to support our members, work alongside you, listen and support what you want to do.
Q. What are some of the key differences of Independent Network today?
Today Independent Network works a lot faster than in its inception 25 years ago with the digital and administration areas seeing huge transformation. Operationally Independent Network is now an online solution transforming how business has been done, how we talk to consumers and customers has changed and we are ahead of the game in trying to support them.
Q. What does Independent Network mean to you?
I’m most proud of our members, they’ve become friends, it’s bigger than a membership and, of course, my fabulous team who are so dedicated and passionate about the business.
Q. How has Covid affected the Network?
There’s been lots of worry for so many businesses around Covid but it has also meant that we’re engaging more regularly because we’re all online – it has brought some positives. Moving forward online has helped people engage more and connect more. We have been at the forefront of digital transformation in the industry which has allowed us to help and support our members throughout the pandemic. Through the Network, our members can talk to other members about best practice, it’s a support network across the country.
Q. What’s next for Independent Network?
We’re looking at a number of ways of evolving – possibly looking at different tiers of our membership as our members are so varied they all need different things from the organisation and we want to provide those tailored solutions. We’re looking at additional health and safety solutions, more support from legal point of view and we will be growing. We have an ambitious growth plan over the next five years.
Q. How is the sector changing?
We have always had a range of members and as the next generation of business owners come into double glazing they’re looking at different solutions; different more agile ways of doing business. We are finding they are looking for more digital support and service – we’re seeing an ambitious generation coming through and require our tools to help them get where they want to go.
Q. Why should a business join Independent Network?
Not one size fits all. We provide a business solution with around 30 different elements that our members can choose from. Every member can tailor a package to suit their business needs and what is important to them and every member gets the ultimate support from a dedicated team. We’re a business solution that also happens to generate home owner enquiries.
Independent Network launched 25 years ago with the ten-year insurance backed guarantee -it was a game changer for the industry and today the business is still leading innovating and evolving the network all the time.
One of the great milestones of the organisation is that it still stands for what it stood for 25 years ago – an independent network born out of the need and demand for quality and craftsmanship that echoes through every strand of the business today.