I had the pleasure of interviewing 10-year matchmaker Brigitte Weil, asking for advice on her business, setting up with GoDaddy, and her advice on love and dating. The moment she hopped onto the call I felt a warm nurturing presence from her, and could see right away why she made a wonderful dating coach and matchmaker.
Brigitte began with a large national matchmaking company, learning the ropes of the business, until three years ago she decided to build her website and change the matchmaking game.
Let’s get right into the good stuff.
“My unique selling point is one of the reasons I left the larger national company, I felt like my matchmaking clients needed a more tailored experience. In terms of matchmaking dating is not one size, fits all. And I felt like I wanted to give my clients unique experiences where I was able to coach them in their matchmaking experience and in their dating.
I take the time to get to know them better and understand their life history, relationship history, preferences, priorities, and deal breakers before I actually set them up on a date.”
Brigitte spends a lot of time with her clients, and asks a range of questions to really delve into who they are. This, she noted, was a huge part of her process. I was honored that she shared with me some of the important questions she asks clients like:
- Where did they grow up?
- Who they were as children?
- What their family life was like?
- Relationship history
- What are they looking for moving forward?
- Do they have specifics they’re looking for in terms of match?
- What is important to them?
- How do they see their life a year from now?
These are just some of the techniques Brigitte uses to shape her understanding of her customers. As I was later to find out, she also uses almost therapeutic techniques to coach people into happy, healthy relationships.
“I come from a lot of longevity in terms of relationships, my grandparents on one side were married for 76 years. My grandparents, on the other side, were married for less years, they got married during the war and developed a beautiful love. Also my parents are now celebrating their 59th anniversary.
So I’ve been surrounded by a lot of long-term relationships and I think to me it’s something that is incredibly special, and I’d like to help other people have the same experience.
The best part of the work I do, is when I get a text or an email from somebody and they say, oh my gosh, I totally forgot to tell you that, so-and-so and I are still together or I’ve been meaning to tell you that the guy that you set me up with three years ago, we are now engaged. Those are definitely the best moments of my day.”
“My coaching programs are tailored to whatever somebody actually needs to get them back on the dating scene or to become comfortable while dating.
When I take on a matchmaking client, there is a reasonable amount of coaching that comes along with that process. There’s two different ways you can work with me; I take you on as a private client or I take you on as a date coaching client, or we do a combination of both.
If somebody came to me and said, I would like to hire you as a matchmaker, but I have some commitment issues. I need to work through those first for a few months. The question is always, why? Why do you feel that way? What are you afraid of? Let’s break through that first before I start setting you up on dates.
A lot of clients come to me and they don’t want the coaching. Nobody thinks they need coaching. Everybody thinks I know how to date, I’ve done this before, I know what I want. And nine times out of ten, I drag them into the coaching room because they actually do need that.”
Yeah I can imagine many people not being aware of the need for coaching. What were you doing before that led you into your business?
“I’ve been coaching for over 25 years in the wellness space. I started out as a food coach, where I helped people figure out how to reach their weight loss goals without giving up all of the foods that they loved.
I had a blog for many years called, I Hate Celery Sticks, which was based on the premise that we can eat whatever we want and still reach our weight loss goals. Without giving up the foods we love or going on crazy diets or over-exercise routines, or following any fads. I started actually coaching a few years ago within the dating and relationship community.
I’m a small boutique matchmaker. I generally don’t take on more than 10 clients at a given period. My matchmaking packages range from 15 to 25k per client, but depends on the separate hourly costs.
I think the biggest realization was how important coaching was to the matchmaking process. When I first left the national company, I assumed I would focus only on matchmaking but when I started to build the website, and I started to add more to it, I realized how mandatory the coaching piece is to have a successful matchmaking business.”
- How to Start a Wellness Business: inspired by Brigitte to start a wellness website? Here is our informative guide.
“One of the couples whose photograph is on my success page, had a long list of priorities. One of them was that she wanted to be matched with somebody who makes her laugh. And then all of the other priorities were were about physical qualities.
But I knew this guy and he cracked me up. And every time I spoke to him, he would make me laugh. I just had a really strong feeling that there would be a connection there. Some of the work I do, there is a methodology to it, but there’s also some intuition as well. And I presented him to her, she out right refused to even meet the guy, absolutely not!
I kept on nudging her a little bit, and after two or three good dates with other individuals. She learned to trust me. And I talked her into going out with this guy and what happened?
She has a ring on her finger, and they are engaged. They’re getting married in the Cayman Islands in May, they’re gonna have a big family party over the summer which I will go to, that’s probably one of my favorite success stories. Because there was so much resistance. She really thought he did not look like the person that she imagined herself to be with.”
Do you think that blocks a lot of clients? The aspect of just focusing on appearance, rather than the contents of someone’s character?
“Absolutely, positively, yes. So you asked me about my favorite success story. I’m going to tell you about my favorite unsuccessful story, because there’s such meaning in this to me. I share this one with a lot of my clients too.
I took on a client who was very adamant of the person that she wanted. She wanted somebody who’s well educated, was professional and that came from a good family. And I set her up with somebody that I had date coached.
A gentleman who was professional attorney in private practice and done very well for himself. He came from a very prominent family, and I introduced the two of them over dinner. I also curate the entire date. So I have both my calendars in front of me, I know when one and the other is available. I set up the date and make the reservation. I let them both know where they’re meeting.
I set up the date in a lovely Italian restaurant down in Soho, and they went on a date, so excited! I mean, I couldn’t sleep that night because I couldn’t wait to get the email from both of them!
The next morning I didn’t get an email, I got a phone call… A screaming phone call from my client who basically said, what were you thinking? How could you set me up with somebody that orders spaghetti and meatballs?
I thought it was a prank. I thought I was on like, matchmaker candid camera! I said, but what do you mean? And she said, how dare you set me up with somebody who ordered spaghetti and meatballs? I don’t want a commoner. First of all, this was a lovely, Italian restaurant. I guarantee the spaghetti meatballs were $30 a bowl, it was a beautiful establishment. She also didn’t like that he showed up in a t-shirt, probably a $100 t-shirt knowing him. And that was the end of what could have been a really good relationship.
The challenge with these expectations is that we don’t leave any room for surprises to happen. Maybe the person of one’s dreams does not have an Ivy League degree. Maybe they don’t have hair, maybe they have a couple of extra pounds. When you have those expectations, you immediately eliminate 80% of the population.”
“What a happy relationship looks like could be different for everybody, but I will tell you that the majority of relationships that I set up are people that clearly want to see each other again. Sometimes I’ll get a text simultaneously in the bathroom, like the men’s room and the women’s room. Both like oh my God, this is amazing. Thank you so much.
I have learned what qualities I want them to look for. For example, two people don’t need to make the same amount of money to be in a good relationship. But they have to have the same idea of how to spend their money. If they agree then they have a really good chance of having a good relationship. If not, that’s where the tension comes in.
Also how people relate to their family, right? I have couples where they first get together. And one person says, Thanksgiving let’s go to the Bahamas, and the other says, what Thanksgiving? No, I do that every year with my entire family. So when you have people that can agree on certain key issues such as vacation time, free time, money spending, work ethic, politics and religion –these are markers of a really good chance of a stronger connection.”
What do you think is the reason people can struggle to find the right relationship?
“I think a lot of people don’t find partners because they think their partner is gonna fall out of the sky, or they’re gonna meet them over the tomatoes at the Farmers Market. The white horse is gonna walk in with the shiny Prince and those things only happen on television and in the movies.
They don’t often happen in real life.
I encourage my clients to be open to the world around them. What I found is that you need to be intentional about what you really need.
Everybody’s so unique. It’s almost impossible to generalize which is what I really love about the work that I do. But some general rules are, before you go on the date I think it’s important to know what is important on that list. I suggest to my clients that they leave the list at home, and they go out on a date and they just be open. I generally do not suggest asking a ton of questions on the first date. I think the best experience is just to be yourself and talk about your day and talk about yourself, but not necessarily turn the date into 20 questions.
Also don’t come from work, go home. Take a shower, change your clothes, put your date mode on, and go out and have a good time. Try to think that you are looking to meet somebody new and interesting, not necessarily looking for the man or the woman of your dreams.”
I often hear we bring baggage into new relationships, what are your thoughts on that?
“You know, baggage can be replaced by life experience. We don’t get into our 30s, 40s, and above without having experiences. Those experiences are what make us interesting and unique. They should be celebrated and not looked at in a negative way. If there are certain realities that are triggers for certain people, the more that we know ourselves and the better that we can share our vulnerabilities with our partners – the more success we can potentially have in a relationship.
So baggage to me is not intimidating, it’s just part of who we are. Unless you grew up in a bubble by yourself, and you didn’t have parents, siblings, a community, home, or a school, it just doesn’t exist. Nobody’s a clean slate.”
“I think the ease of the platform made it very simple for me to navigate. It’s very user friendly or at least it was Brigitte friendly, which means that it has to be extra user friendly! I felt like GoDaddy answered the question before I had it. And when it didn’t the phone support helped me, they would spend ages on the phone walking me through each step I had to take.
I know there are some features that I’ve not yet explored, some of the marketing features that I see and Google Analytics. I haven’t paid attention to that at all, but that’s on my list of resolutions for this year.
Any advice for new start ups I would say, to borrow a very famous term, just do it!
One barrier to a lot of businesses starting is that we spend too much time thinking about little things like, should the font be this, or should I make this red? I would say don’t spend too much time on the small steps, don’t sweat the small stuff. It can always be changed later.
The bigger decision is that you have an idea. You’re letting people know about your idea, you’re making yourself available to people. You’re not going to make a break your business, as far as I’m concerned, whether your logo is, you know, black or blue.”
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That’s wonderful advice, do you have any tips for those wanting to start a matchmaking business?
“I would say speak to other matchmakers and network with other matchmakers. The matchmaking community is beautifully collaborative, a community of people like myself. Who have small businesses. We need each other to share ideas, information, and networks. I’m part of two national matchmaking communities, one of them is the Matchmaking Institute and Matchmaking Alliance. I’m certified through both of those.”
In many ways, Brigitte’s biggest lesson on love is similar to her thoughts on business. She told us, “the biggest lesson is to be open. Emotionally open. Physically open. Psychologically open. Open to falling in love with somebody that you did not expect.”
It’s my personal thought that we need to be open in business too, open to the possibilities, to our ideas, and to feedback and iterations along the way.