Lunch Actually has been featured in the news recently, both in Singapore and KL. Actually, the articles in KL are similar to the ones in Singapore.
The hot story in Singapore last month was the story of property queen Ms Ivy Lee. So what does it have to do with Lunch Actually? 🙂 Well, Ms Ivy Lee approached us about a year ago. She’s 42, divorced with 2 kids. And she’s looking for someone who is at least 10 years older than her. By the way, in case I forget to mention, Ms Ivy Lee is also a millionaire.
Based on her profile, and what she’s looking for, we felt that we do not have any suitable matches for her. Hence we did not encourage her to sign up. We were honest, and explained the situation to her.
In the same article, there was also a side story about this other lady whoÂ is 39 years old. After meeting up with her and understanding her profile and preferences, we did not encourage her to sign up as we do not think we have suitable matches.Â She told us that she does not mind dating younger men. However, we explained to her that based on theÂ preferences of our male clients, most of them prefer to date women who are 35 and below.Â
As a business person, if I can make more money, why don’t I just sign up anybody and everybody right? But we are not in the business of selling cars or computers.
From what I observe so far, there are 2 types of dating agencies.
(1) Dating agencies/services that sign on anybody and everybody who is willing to pay, even though they might not have suitable matches for these people who sign up.
(2) Dating agencies that screen because they would like to be:
a) Responsible to existing members who joined based on the fact that they will be matched with people within their dating preferences; and
b) Responsible to potential signups e.g. being upfront and honest if there are no suitable matches as the dating agencies do not want to waste the time and money of the potential signups
Lunch Actually belongs to the 2nd type of dating agency.
From a business point of view, obviously it would be more profitable if we too adopt the procedures of the first type of dating agency.
However, we believe that running a successful and sustainable dating service in the long run is like running any other business â€“ reputation and credibility comes first.
So anyway, when approached by a journalist to clarify on the case of Ms Ivy Lee. I shared with her the above. And she could see where I was coming from. Hence, when the article was first published in Singapore, I felt that it was a fair article, as she gave our side of the story as well. The journalist even told me that she had readers emailing her to praise Lunch Actually for being honest and not just taking the money and ‘run’.
However, when the article was published in Malaysia, all the information that was presented by us to explain why we did what we did was edited out. Hence, it might appear to the readers that we are a very ‘heartless’ company.
Initially, I was very upset. However, I eventually figured that there is not much we could do about it as it was already published. We wrote to the editor, but we have not received any reply to date.
I sometimes do wonder if I have done the right thing. Or should I just do what some other dating agencies do?
We could have even just take in the money, and then refund them one year later when there are no matches. From a business viewpoint, that would be a good cash flow buffer, wouldn’t it? But if during the point of sign up, we know that there are no suitable matches at all, that would not be an ethical thing to do.
Yet by doing what we perceive as ethical, what we perceive as doing the right thing, we might have come across as ‘heartless’ i.e. not helping those that are seeking help. And the best thing is… it is not us that ‘discriminate’, it is the clients themselves. (In this case, the men.)
We are just the introducer, bringing together people according to their preferences and profiles. Of course, there are some clients who are very flexible, and leave it to us to find them suitable matches. However,Â the majorityÂ of clients have specific preferences when it comes to attributes like age and height. Yes, we can manage their expectations, we can advice them to be more flexible, but at the end of the day, the decision is theirs. We cannot force them to meet someone that are not within their preferences.
Oh well… I guess, sometimes in life, you can never win.
So as long as you know you are doing the right thing and your conscience is clear, maybe that’s good enough. 🙂
Post Note: Thank youÂ to all of you for your support and encouragement… am truly touched by your words! 🙂 Jamie and I, with our team will continue to work hard to make Lunch Actually the leading dating agency in Singapore and Malaysia!