This week’s five minute interview is with Matchmaker Academy Founder, and CEO of Mutual Attraction, Caroline Brealey.

1) How has Matchmaking changed in the last few years?

I’ve been in the matchmaking industry for 6 years. Whilst what matchmakers do hasn’t changed, the look and feel of the matchmaking industry is changing for the better. When I first started out most matchmakers had no brand identity, websites that looked like they were created the day the web launched and they were only really geared towards the older generations. Now we see matchmakers appealing to different demographics, at different price points, nationwide. They’ve become much more switched on to the needs of single people. Partly because there are now more matchmakers, which has created healthy competition and pushed matchmakers to keep improving their service and partly down to the explosion of online and app dating, matchmakers need to up their game to stay appealing. There is still a long way to go with professionalising the image of matchmaking but we’re on the right path.  

2) As Head Judge at The Dating Awards, what do you think makes for an award-winning matchmaking agency?

Exceptional customer experience is key. Matchmakers who can demonstrate they have thought through every aspect of a client’s journey, are constantly striving to improve their client’s experience with them and aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo of matchmaking and try new things attract my attention. I also think doing what you do not just well, but incredibly well, is important. Some of the best matchmaking agencies are very simple – they have 1 core offering, a small team, no bells and whistles but everything runs so seamlessly and smooth. For me nothing beats hearing from clients themselves about how a matchmaker has made a positive impact on their life.

3) What’s the biggest challenge faced by modern matchmakers?

Staying relevant and adapting with the times. Whilst the core elements of matchmaking may not have changed for centuries, the way that we deliver our services and market them has. Online dating dominates the dating industry and it’s becoming harder for matchmakers to ensure people know they exist and understand what they offer. Even now i’m sometimes called an online dating matchmaker! People are often confused what a matchmaker does so our ongoing challenge is to reach the people who want our services and make the role of a matchmaker common knowledge.

4) What role does tech play in the world of matchmaking?  Do you see the influence of technology increasing?

For many clients, the attraction of using a matchmaking service is that it’s offline and highly personal.  If matchmakers start using lots of tech, then the lines begin to blur. What we’re seeing is that matchmakers are adopting more tech for the non client-facing work or introducing it in small doses but the matchmaking itself and client integration is still done very much face to face or on a 1:1 basis. I think we will see a bit tech come through it will only be minimal.  Some businesses have tried to deliver a combination of online dating with matchmaking but so far I haven’t seen it being done successfully because not only are the price points for matchmaking and dating sites hugely different, most matchmaker clients want privacy and a truly bespoke service which is why they’re coming to matchmakers in the 1st place.

5) What are your main tips for someone just starting out as a matchmaker?

1) Find your niche and be clear about who your ideal clients are. Most matchmakers start out wanting to help anyone and everyone who is single, not realising how time intensive matchmaking is. If you don’t niche you’ll find yourself matching a 70 year old man one day and 22nd year old woman the next – it may sound fun but you’ll be grey within days!

2) Surround yourself with inspiring people and other matchmakers. Nothing beats having other matchmakers to run your ideas past, learn from or simply have coffee with. Other matchmakers ‘get it’ and will keep you sane in this hugely rewarding, but slightly crazy job!

3) Get training. If you’re just starting out you are in the luxury position of being about to launch your matchmaking business doing everything right from day 1. Chances are you’ve never matched anyone but friends and and family before. Whilst that’s great experience, matching paying clients is a whole different ball game and there’s so much more to running a matchmaking business than arranging dates. When I launched I had no experience and went around things totally the wrong way which is why I created the Matchmaker Academy training school in 2015, so matchmakers could get to where they want to be faster and have ongoing support through a team of experienced matchmakers and friendly community.

The next training and certification for matchmakers will take place in Amsterdam alongside the European Dating Conference and Dating Awards May 24th – 26th 2017.  Click her for more details.