It’s nearly Valentine’s Day so it only seems natural that I do a story about the business of love.
Many successful women entrepreneurs, from Erika Bliss of Qliance to Kara Goldin of Hint to Paula Long of DataGravity, have told me how important a supportive partner (personal not business) is to their success. Sheryl Sandberg writes about this in her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.
Fear not, if you don’t have a partner. You don’t have to go it alone. This story not only tells you how applying a tried-and true-methodology from one industry to another creates a multi-million dollar business, but how to find the love of your life. In 2000, Barbie Adler took her skills in executive search and applied them to what she was passionate about — matchmaking — then started Selective Search.
Adler shared with me seven secrets to building her multi-million dollar business.
1.) Target a large and lucrative market
The dating services industry is more than a $2 billion business, according to IBISWorld, a market research firm. “The stigma of being professionally fixed up is gone,” says Adler. “It’s no different than using a personal shopper or a chef.”
2.) Understand the needs of your market
Time is the most precious resource successful people have. Successful entrepreneurs don’t have the time to shop around for the love of their life. Using online dating services is time-consuming. You spend a lot of time with people who are just not right for you. It’s a waste of your most valuable resource and zaps you emotionally.
3.) Apply what works in one industry to another industry
In the executive search business, you get paid a lot of money to make a perfect match between a company and an executive. If there’s a mismatch, you have to find a replacement without an additional fee, you don’t get additional work from that company, and you don’t get referrals to other companies. You have to get it right. Adler got it right and was very successful at it, but something was missing. She wasn’t passionate about executive search.
Adler loved fixing freinds up and had a few marriages to her credit. She thought she could apply the techniques of executive search to matchmaking. Her process starts with a romance resume: an 18-page questionnaire. Adler really wants to get to know you. She combines that with skilled matchmakers who get to know you on a personal basis and a proprietary tool to separate the wheat from the chaff in terms of prospective matches for a client.
4.) Build thought-leadership
Thought-leadership creates credibility, visibility, and brand loyalty. It’s a powerful tool in helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Adler put herself out there. She served as a relationship expert and advisor for ABC’s “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette;” was a consultant to NBC’s “The Apprentice;” and authors several relationship-expert columns.
5.) Be results-oriented
“Selective Search is not for recreational daters,” said Adler. “ It’s for people looking for long-lasting relationships.” Its results are pretty impressive: 1,500 marriages, an additional 3,000 couples who found love, and 500 babies. Selective Search has a whopping overall success rate of 87%. No online dating service can match that.
6.) Hire right and train big time
Of course, a matchmaker is empathic and compassionate. But you also need someone who is sophisticated and has life experience. Highly successful people aren’t all work. They have diverse interests and needs. Only someone who has lived life will be able to connect all the dots to make the right match. Raw talent isn’t enough to be a successful matchmaker. Adler’s matchmakers also go through a one-year training program.
Retaining staff is a problem for many companies. Not so for Selective Search. Employees find the work rewarding and stay with the company. Many have been there for more than eight years. Not bad for a 14 year old company.
7.) Provide added value
Selective Search doesn’t just match you. Some clients lack confidence with the dating process or need a makeover. For these clients, Selective Search provides coaching on everything from diet to how to dress to building a relationship.
Customers include men and women from Forbes’ richest and most powerful lists. They can afford Selective Search’s fees, which range from $25,000 to $500,000. Not to worry if you don’t have that kind of dough. You can apply to be part of the database. Selective Search boosts a database of 250,000 candidates, to ensure that clients are matched with the most appropriate people.
And, by the way, Adler found her own life partner in the process.
Whether you’re inspired to find love or starting/growing a business, take action. What will you do?
This article was written by Geri Stengel from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.