SOME of Australia's prime commercial property locations are successfully getting Buffed through a new franchise service system that is helping people re-engage with business and employment.
Buffed set up two free shoe shining sites in Brisbane's Queen Street Mall at the front of the Body Shop's Brisbane Arcade location, for Father's Day.
Five of Australia's largest commercial property managers have already partnered with Buffed - a social enterprise shoe shining and leather care service - using the opportunity to enhance their building services while doing a good turn.
In November 2011, Buffed - widely acknowledged as Australia's first social franchise - launched the first of 10 shoe shining sites from GPT's Riverside Centre, in Eagle St, Brisbane. Buffed is supported by the Wise Foundation - the organisation behind The Big Issue magazine program - The Body Shop, UQ Business School and the Bank of Queensland (BOQ).
GPT CEO Michael Cameron said the group's properties became involved because of the way Buffed assists people excluded from the workforce to develop their own micro business around professional shoe shining and leather care.
The relationship Buffed built with GPT has helped Alan Ely re-engage in the workforce and become a successful franchisee, "giving him the opportunity to build his own personal relationship with building tenants", Mr Cameron said.
"I broke my back and had to live off of the disability pension for 15 years. I eventually got sick of it and wanted to reengage in the workforce and Buffed was the perfect opportunity for me to do that," Mr Ely said.
"Everybody is now so time poor, the little things like shining your shoes are taking time away from more important things, like playing with your kids."
GPT also supported the first Melbourne launch through its location at 530 Collins St, and Mr Cameron said GPT would continue to be an integral part of Buffed franchisors' development.
Founding member of Buffed, the Bank of Queensland (BOQ), saw potential in the social franchise and successfully negotiated to have a shoe shining stand setup in the BOQ Centre located at 259 Queen St on December 2011.
In April 2012, the diversified property group Stockland came on board to offer Buffed a site on the Eagle St Pier, giving Buffed the chance to shine in the iconic Brisbane waterfront precinct.
That location became the territory of ‘show shine artisan' Jimme Jam, who has been with Buffed since the beginning and has helped develop the brand and customer base for over a year.
"Buffed was a start, an acorn, a creation from anything. It could have gone anywhere and that's what I liked about it," Mr Jam said.
"This is the best job I have ever had. I get to be personal with people all day and I am my own boss."
Queensland Rail supported the opening of Buffed's fifth site at Brisbane's Central Station, and will soon open an additional franchise at Roma St Station.
Property group Investa saw the potential and value of offering up space to Buffed in buildings in both Brisbane, at 239 George St, and Melbourne at 120 Collins St.
Investa chairman Scott McDonald said Investa believed in innovation and "knowing and appreciating a good idea" when they see it is key to building a strong business.
This is exactly what Mr McDonald saw in Buffed, an opportunity to help support and develop a business that has good principles and strong ethics.
Mr McDonald said corporate social responsibility is an integral part of Investa's business principles and the company has continued to show support to the two Buffed franchisees in their locations.
It was a similar approach from motoring club RACV, which saw the potential to offer their members a new service which added to the headquarters' already extensive list of amenities and exclusive member services.
Buffed's planned expansion into Melbourne was bolstered by the RACV's forward thinking in supporting Buffed to manage and grow the premium service at the 501 Bourke St site.
Buffed franchises are expanding with two new sites set to open in Brisbane this month at 123 Albert St (Rio Tinto) and 111 George St (Queensland State Government) buildings.
A Buffed spokesperson said the progressive thinking of these property investment groups has not only delivered a high quality service to their clientele, it has also helped change the lives of individuals who were long term unemployed and are now shoe shine artisans and business franchisees in their own right.
"The franchisees who have been given the opportunity to buy into a franchise and be placed into a location where they are supported by workers and industry alike has helped spurn on their business and in turn change their lives."