While using dating services might have raised eyebrows in the past, today they are not only acceptable but fashionable. Finding love has now become a very lucrative business. Rena Maycock and Feargal Harrington know all about the dating game. Not only because they are engaged to each other and due to marry in June of this year but because, together, they own and run Intro Matchmaking, one of Ireland's top dating agencies.
The company offers a nationwide service and has clients in every county. They cater for those who are single, separated, divorced or widowed and welcome people from all backgrounds and all ages. Their only stipulation is that all clients must be available and looking for a serious relationship. Once we've picked a potential Mr or Ms Right, we then arrange every detail of the date for the client so they don't have to worry about making that all-important first move," explains Rena.
Separately, both Rena and Feargal had long harboured the desire to set up their own business but were unsure as to what type of business that would be. They both grew up in Dublin. Rena studied media production in Dublin Institute of Technology and went on to have a successful career in media sales with 98FM and Sky Media. She later advanced to the role of chief executive of a regional radio station group before setting up the business.
Feargal studied human resource management at the National College of Ireland and spent a number of years working as a negotiator with some of Ireland's leading estate agencies. It was while at a party in a bar in Malahide that the two finally settled on what they were going to do next. He was clutching a pint close to his chest. We thought he must have been waiting to meet a friend or his partner," explains Rena. However, the couple soon realised that he was actually on his own. It then got them thinking about whether or not he had actually gone to the bar on his own in the hope of meeting someone.
Rena began to think of how several of her single friends would have been happy to go on a date with this man.
The event got the pair thinking about whether or not there might be a market opportunity for a new dating business. They spoke to their own circle of friends in order to gauge their reaction and later put together a number of focus groups to further test their idea. What they quickly discovered was that many people felt that dating in Ireland was difficult if you weren't into the social scene of bars or nightclubs. Others recalled how they had tried speed dating or online dating websites but didn't feel comfortable advertising the fact that they were single and actively searching for a partner.
For that reason, the couple decided to establish their own business as a confidential service where they would not give out personal information to potential matches.
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We arrange every introduction ourselves," insists Rena. We don't give out people's phone numbers or their photographs but we do provide an emergency number in the event that either party is late or unable to turn up for some reason," she explains. It's an approach that is proving popular among their clients, some of whom are either too busy or too shy to arrange these meet-ups themselves.
Some weeks the couple organise as many as separate dates. In addition, the pair check their clients' IDs in advance of arranging meetings so as to validate that they are who they say they are, which helps ensure that they are not already in a relationship.
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Like all budding entrepreneurs, they had their fair share of challenges when starting out. Their first big challenge was trying to get access to the start-up capital they needed in order to fit out their offices with phones and computers, as well as pay for the development of their branding and marketing materials. However, their friends rallied around.
Many came forward with offers of spare office space as well as unused computers and office equipment in order to help them get their fledgling venture off the ground. It has been a positive experience for the couple who have seen their business grow year on year. Last year, they doubled their staff numbers and significantly increased their office capacity in line with increased demand. After only three years in business, their office is full of cards and notes from satisfied clients who have found long-term relationships.
Column: How to score an “F” on your first date
They have even begun to receive photos of newborn babies from couples who met through using their services. But it's also personally very satisfying for us to be able to bring such happiness into people's lives," says Feargal. We understand that the reason why so many of our clients hadn't managed to find a partner before coming to us was because about 90 per cent of them just weren't in the right place to meet someone. Our job is to help make sure that they are," adds Rena. They have great praise too for their staff who have been hugely instrumental in the success of the business.
Women make a big effort getting ready for a date, the least you could do is arrive clean.
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Dating is hard work. You must TRY to generate topics of conversation. Moan, moan and moan some more. Nobody likes a whinger, everyone wants positivity. Forgeting all of your table manners. If you do any of these things you have a problem.
If you do more than one, you may never find a woman to meet you for a second date. Being rude to the staff. Be courteous, it will never do you wrong. Not offering to pay the bill. All of the below actions are equally as shameful and are sure to result in a long and lonely life: Not caring if she lives or dies. Women love a gentleman, and part of being a gentleman, or indeed any sort of man is being a little protective. Is online dating keeping us from settling down? See more articles by Rena Maycock.
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