Made in HEAVEN
A career as a matchmaker
THEY say you shouldn’t mix business with pleasure but Linda Prescott has made a career out of combining work with love.
The professional matchmaker has been running Brisbane dating agency Ideal Introductions since 1996, uniting hundreds of happy couples every year.
And with Christmas looming, Prescott is heading into her busiest time of year.
‘‘It starts in the beginning of September really,’’ she says.
‘‘People want someone to take to the office Christmas party – they don’t want to go alone.
‘‘Christmas is also a sentimental time.
‘‘It reminds people that another year has whizzed past, another year of being single.’’
Surviving in the fickle business of love comes from taking the dating game seriously, and while Prescott likes nothing more than making a perfect match, she also knows what’s required to keep her company afloat.
She has a strict set of rules before clients are added to her books and, once there, they need to follow company guidelines or risk being cast back into singledom.
To start with, they must be single for at least nine months before Prescott will consider taking them on. Coffee dates are prohibited because they’re too much like job interviews and a three-date rule ensures those who have a pleasant time at their first meeting must follow through with two more outings before making a decision about developing a relationship.
She issues both men and women with a dating etiquette manual before their first meeting so both know what’s expected.
‘‘A lot of people just don’t know how to date,’’ she says. ‘‘Our manual is all about old-school values – the guy is expected to pay on the first date.
‘‘Many of our clients have already tried online agencies and bars without success, so the people on our books have reached the stage where they are ready to meet someone.
‘‘They don’t have big wish lists. They just want someone who won’t muck them around and who is on the same page.’’
Clients must undertake an exhaustive face-to-face interview with Prescott or one of her seven staff who ask a series of questions about the person, their relationships, their former partners, their parents’ relationships and more.
‘‘We then profile what suits them in a partner,’’ Prescott says.
‘‘A lot of people know what they want but what they need is often a little bit different.’’
Though she injects a fair dose of reality into romantic fantasy, Prescott’s tough love yields business strategies that work.
While other agencies have come and gone in Brisbane over the past decade, Prescott has opened branch offices in Sydney and Melbourne.
She juggles 1400-1800 clients at any one time, with 30 new people joining the dating pool each week at a starting rate of $220.
She’s attended more than 1000 weddings of couples who met through her company and 18 per cent of her business comes from referrals.
It was by accident that Prescott discovered her talent for matchmaking.
She left Clontarf State High School at the age of 16 with no real career ambitions. She completed a secretarial course before taking a job in a computer company.
‘‘I started off selling computers when I was 16 and, by the time I was 21, I was managing the company,’’ Prescott says.
It was once she’d left the computer industry for a stint in a dating agency that Prescott found her perfect match.
‘‘I’ve learned along the way,’’ she says. ‘‘I have interviewed more than 10,000 people and I’ve been matching couples for 18 years.
‘‘I really get relationships now. The reality is that if you can get 70 per cent of what you’re looking for, you are doing really, really well.’’
GUIDANCE: Linda Prescott, of Ideal Introductions.