By Roger DuPuis The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Matchmaker Suzanne Dante shares how she and her staff help clients find that special someone in the era of online dating.
Suzanne Dante's passion is helping other people find theirs.
After two decades in the matchmaking business, Dante says her work has led to hundreds of marriages.
Now, she's putting that expertise to work as an entrepreneur, as the operator of her own company, Love Brokers, which opened on Third Avenue in Kingston about two months ago. She has brought many members over to the new company as well.
Dante spoke with the Times Leader about her experiences and about how she and her staff help clients find their special someone in the era of online dating.
Q: So tell me about you. How did you become a matchmaker?
A: I started with a local business that did strictly old-fashioned type matchmaking, I fell in love with it and did it for 20 years. Unfortunately, she retired and went out of business. I couldn't imagine doing anything else -- I love to help people. It took me a while, but my boyfriend and I put this place together.
Q: How has the business changed over the past 20 years?
A: I think the fact that people want instant gratification. Falling in love is a process. No matter how much we want to swipe through and right-click and say, "that's my person," you still have to take the time and give people a chance. People can be so quick to give up; if one little thing goes wrong they're gone. With online dating you see some of the game-playing and misleading information -- or worst-case scenario, felons and criminal activity.
Q: So how do you differentiate your business from the apps and online dating?
A: We're not for one-night stands or hookups. We're for people who want a committed relationship. People are getting very frustrated with the online dating and looking for that personal touch. Not that you can't have success with online dating, but what I'm hearing from people coming in is that they've been lied to, they've been disrespected. Here we have a code of ethics that members have to follow in order to participate in the service.
Q: And how do you help them find that committed relationship?
A: We meet with our members in person -- we really get to know their hearts, what they're looking for in a relationship. And we focus on that. We do a screening process. We have a questionnaire. When they come in, we spend at least two hours for each person and create a profile.
A lot of the matching is done on compatibility -- the age range, what they find attractive physically. They see photos. Hobbies, interests. We do a personality evaluation. So we match them with someone that will complement their personality.
There are many factors -- Age? Single? Never married? Divorced? Widowed? Do they want children? Will they date someone with children? Will they date a smoker? Everybody has their deal-breakers. A lot of people have walls built up. We help them break those walls down. A lot of people have unrealistic expectations. We help them to be open to meeting the right person.
Q: What is the dating process like?
A: Once we select matches for them we get calls out right away. Usually they'll have a match within two to three days -- sometimes the same day. And we're old fashioned: They talk on the phone to set up a date.
What makes it easier for people is they're not just going on a date and left wondering, "What do I do next?" We coach them as to calling that person again, and if there is no interest we politely move them along, so it does eliminate that game-playing.
We encourage people to work through little bumps or obstacles as they're learning about each other. People mis-communicate things. We help them to clear the air when need be.
Q: How many members do you have? Are they old? Young? New to the dating scene?
A: We have about 1,500. Our primary age range is mid-30s and higher. Most of my members are 40s, 50s and 60s, but we are getting calls though from the younger 30s. I have widowed members. They're devastated and they're not going to sit in a bar. Many of them may not even know how to use a computer.
Then you have people who have gone through a divorce who are thrown out there into the dating world and it's not like it used to be.
People get so discouraged. Dating is not easy. We have to keep them inspired and motivated. Sometimes they think they're not going to find the right one, and the right one walks through the door.
Q: How do you know when your work with a member is done?
A: When they're in love and they decide they no longer want to date anyone else and find themselves married or in a long-term relationship -- not everyone is interested in marriage. We can't say when that's going to happen. Usually the feedback we get about dates is that they had a great time, or at least a friendship developed.
Q: Even with an established client base, starting a new business can be a challenge. How do you plan to grow and expand?
A: A lot of other personalized matchmaking companies charge thousands. We made it very affordable. We'll rely on referrals, Facebook, and we have a website being developed. We'll also do events and get involved in the community. We're also having an open house next Friday.
Q: Any other thoughts?
A: I love the whole process. It's just my passion. For more information about Love Brokers, visit thelovebrokers.com. Love Brokers will hold an open house from 5-8 p.m. Jan. 25 at their office, 500 Third Ave., Kingston.