It was just over three years ago that we set up IDS Business Services. Since then the venture has established a strong foundation, providing bookkeeping services to clients across Melbourne. IDS Business Services is a social enterprise that provides training and genuine employment opportunities for people with a disability.

Key to the success of IDS Business Services has been the support of our clients. One of the first to come on board was Ethical Property Australia, a partnership between Melbourne-based Donkey Wheel trust and a leading UK social enterprise, The Ethical Property Company. Headed up by Peter Allen, who had previously worked for Ethical Property in the UK, the new company’s vision is to provide affordable rental accommodation to socially and environmentally driven organisations throughout Australia.

Ethical Property Australia was supported and incubated by Donkey Wheel, which in 2008 had made a significant investment purchasing and restoring the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company building, situated in the heart of Melbourne. Donkey Wheel’s purchase was driven by a vision of filling the five storey heritage building with social enterprises and values-aligned tenant organisations to create a different kind of office building, and they saw Ethical Property Australia as a way of continuing and extending the vision beyond just one property. In 2014 Peter and the team at Ethical Property Australia took over the management of the building (now named Donkey Wheel House), and in 2016 the property was sold to the Ethical Property Commercial Fund – a fund created with the sole purpose of enabling further investment to build a portfolio of social impact properties.

The Ethical Property model has been well received, with demand seeing the opening of Endeavour House in Canberra, providing the opportunity for civil society organisations to connect, and make an impact on politics for the progressive sector. Ethical Property is also seeking to develop their portfolio with an additional property in Sydney, as well as growing the Melbourne and Canberra clusters.

A key role for the team at Ethical Property is to ensure the tenants share a common vision so that different businesses can exchange ideas and develop opportunities. The synergies between Ethical Property Australia and IDS Business Services are clear to see; both organisations are committed to the delivery of equitable and efficient service and helping to build a strong civil society with inclusive communities. “IDS Business Services provides an excellent service. However it was the work IDS do on behalf of people with a disability that opened the door for our first meeting” said Yvette Duncan, Operations Manager, Ethical Property Australia.

IDS recognises that shared values, and common goals are not enough if we are going to retain the support of our customers. We need to provide excellent customer service – that exceeds our customers’ expectations and outshines our competitors. In the service industry, it is important that people actually get along with each other. Research has shown that 43 percent of clients abandoned a provider to which they declared themselves loyal because of a negative experience with a member of staff.

Chris from IDS Business Services is very much part of the team at Ethical Property, sharing in birthday and other celebrations. Chris recognises the importance of building a relationship centred on the delivery of a quality of service and a trust that he will meet the Ethical Property business requirements. Chris spends a day and half a week working in their offices, with responsibility for all bookkeeping and payroll.

The new manager of IDS Business Services, Dallas Beeston firmly believes we need to provide a service that understands the business of our clients. Not only does this ensure we offer a service that supports their immediate needs it also opens the door for developing the partnership in other areas. It is not just about price, as Dallas says “Lower prices are not service; they are just lower prices. IDS Business Services wants to be known for the quality of the support we provide and the extra value we can bring to a business”.

As Chris says, “I have a great relationship with all the staff at Ethical Property and this is the cornerstone of our relationship. The fact the two organisations share common values and the synergies between have made what would conventionally be a straightforward supplier contract into a partnership – wherein both organisations benefit”.

Great partnerships are made. They take time, effort and vision. We are thankful for the support of Ethical Property Australia and look forward to a long and rewarding relationship.