Interview with Debra Walmsley at Unity Radio – The Real Sound of the City.
Interview with Debra Walmsley at Unity Radio – The Real Sound of the City.
Lee: Good afternoon. This is the Logros Show in association with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. Happy Tuesday everybody. We are broadcasting live here from Media City UK on 92.8 FM DAB and online at www.unityradio.fm. My name is Lee and each week we have guests from the world of health, entrepreneurs and sport. This week as it is a very special day on Friday, Debra is already smiling, she’s gearing up for this one, we thought we would invite a matchmaker, a personal introduction service. Debra is from a company called INTRO based in Bolton. Good afternoon Debra. Tell us about the company, what service do you offer?
Debra: Good afternoon Lee. We are a matchmaking company that brings together single people. We are offline so none of the swiping left and right what we do is a very personal service. We are introducing people who are looking for a relationship. We meet everybody who we are going to introduce so we check their id; we check their dates of birth we check that the photos look like them.
That allows our clients to have the confidence that whoever they are meeting is going to be a genuine person.
Lee: Right no donkey ears then! Whereabouts are you located?
Debra: My patch is Bolton and Bury, but we are based all over the North West. We also have links with agencies all over the country, so if you are living in Manchester and working in London or vice versa we can link you with somebody from another agency or another location.
Lee: A question I’d like to ask is what are some of the reasons you hear as to why people would come to you?
Debra: Certainly. We get a lot of young professionals who have spent their life building up their careers and they have reached that stage of their lives where they think, I need to meet somebody. They have a look round, they go on some of the online dating things and they realise they are swiping left and right and don’t really have any idea of who they are meeting. That is one of our set of clients. We also have people who come out of long term relationships who haven’t got a clue how to start dating again and want some help with that. We do work with older people as well who don’t have the confidence to get out there and have a look what‘s around and who’s around.
Lee: Okay, three different kinds there. I guess on social media, you are not showing yourself so to speak, so what can people expect?
Debra: We offer a professional service introducing you to other single people. You have that confidence to know that people we are introducing you to are genuinely looking for a relationship.
Lee: Okay so that’s what you know, people on the other side want a relationship? What else?
Debra: We check their details, we check their dates of birth and we check that their photos look like them. We’ve met everybody who is on our database, or one of the team has, so we know who they are and what they are looking for. We can them describe them to the clients and say this is someone who we think you would like.
Lee: Wow, power in your hands! The question I’m interested in the most is how do you do the match?
Debra: What we do is we meet you and we get to know about you. We get to know your likes and your dislikes. We trust that you are honest with us and that what you are telling us is right. What we then do is we produce a profile of you and we put your photographs on there. You then agree that profile with us. We go back to the office and look through our database for somebody who matches with you. That can be on the things that you like, ages, locations, so whoever is looking for somebody we have a good idea of what they are looking for in another person. That’s how we match them, so it is a personal one; it’s done by us not by algorithms.
We may even introduce you to someone who you wouldn’t have even thought of looking at in the first place.
Lee: What do you believe from talking and seeing so many people, are the components of a good match?
Debra: I did start off by thinking it was about shared interests, but actually it goes deeper than that. It’s about shared beliefs and shared core values. That is what is going to get you through any difficult times that may come up. So definitely shared beliefs and shared core values.
Lee: The interesting thing in what you say, I’m making assumptions here but I think a lot of people in relationships may not understand what the other person’s core values are until perhaps they have children and they are projecting their values and they suddenly find that their values don’t match. So if you are going out with somebody, how would you explore what their values are? Do you have any tips from a matchmaking experience? How do you elicit someone’s values?
Debra: It is a difficult one but it’s just about communication. It’s making sure you discuss what you need to discuss so rather than thinking, oh that was a bit odd having that discussion, where are we at with this and why did this happen? It’s being open and honest and having as much communication as you can.
Lee: In the matchmaking process do you explore someone’s values with them in order to match another person’s values?
Debra: Not that deeply on the first initial chat with them but the longer we work with them, the more we can elicit that sort of information.
Lee: When you say the longer you work with people what generally happens when they come to see you?
Debra: When people come to see us they fill out an application form and we meet them. Once we have a profile of them we go back to the office and we look on our database of people. The we find two or three people who we think on the surface would match them, because we’ve met them so we have had that deeper understanding other than just looking at photographs. Then we will introduce you to their profiles and let you have a look and if one of those is of interest to you then we go back to that person and say suchabody is interested in meeting you. If it’s a yes from both sides then we put you in touch with each other. After that what we do is we make sure that the date has gone all right and if there is anything we need to learn.
Lee: As in for your matching process?
Debra: Yes and for them as well. So what went well, what didn’t go well and they both get feedback on that.
Lee: When you show someone else’s profiles what do people go for first before they decide. Have you noticed at trend?
Debra: People do look at photographs because that is how we are conditioned to look and especially if they have done some of the online dating they will look at photographs. Within that we have, what was the last kind of music you listened to, what was the last film you saw? What sort of things do you like doing, so that we can match up on a better level than just the initial one.
Lee: The biggest question is expectation management. So you walk in and you ask who they are looking to meet and they describe this person and you go no chance! How do you manage people’s expectations? That’s an interesting skill to be able to deliver the expectations. What do you do in that respect?
Debra: I’m generalising now but we often get older men who only want to meet younger women. We talk them through that and about how realistic it is but also how their chances of actually meeting somebody within this process are very much reduced because the number of people we can introduce them to is much less if they are only looking for a certain age range. We do that as well if they are looking for a certain body type or hair colour because what happens is it reduces your chances of meeting somebody.
Lee: Do people come in and say, right I want this height, this hair colour, this body shape, this interest and down to the specifics and before you know it they’ve got one person to meet?
Debra: We can have that.
Lee: How much do people attach their own happiness on being with somebody else? That’s the big thing across the world that people assume they are unhappy if they are single and they attach their own happiness based on being with another person. How much do you see that?
Debra: Quite a lot but surprisingly one of the things that people ask for in a potential match is that they are independent. They are looking for something more than somebody who wants to be with them all the time. There is an acceptance that people have independent lives. It is nice to have somebody there, another person in your life.
For me it’s about enhancement of your life. If there is somebody there who will enhance your life then go for it, that’s the best thing about it.
Lee: A little bit of trivia about St. Valentine, was he a real person or not? According to myth he was a priest in Rome in third century AD. He used to marry the soldiers in Rome because the emperor of the time banned the soldiers from getting married because he thought it was supposed to deteriorate their performance and he thought there was a lot of distraction. So this good bloke decided to marry the soldiers in secret. The emperor found out about this and wasn’t very happy so he put St. Valentine in jail and while he was there he fell in love with the jailors daughter. Just as he was about to be sentenced to death he sent a message to her to say, from your valentine. That’s where the story came from. Then it got developed further on later in Roman times and in England and now we have Valentine’s Day on February fourteenth. We’ve now got Debra’s top tips for a first date. The reason is because when she places people on matchmaking and they go on a first date, they give a lot of feedback about what the other person did well and what they didn’t do so well! Okay Debra let’s get into first dates. Obviously this isn’t applicable for everybody but what are some of the good things to do on a first date?
Debra: It’s amazing how many people take notice of how you treat other people on a date. So if you are very nice with your date but you are a bit off or sharp with the waiter or waitress or the person behind the counter that can make a big difference between how they think of you. So be careful how you behave with everyone around you not just your date.
Lee: So don’t go steaming into the waiter if he has not brought your meal out on time. Okay that’s tip number one. Tip number two?
Debra: Sometimes just go out for a coffee, take the pressure off. Just meet up for a coffee and see if there is anything there that will enable you to have a longer time together. Just enjoy it, don’t get hung up on it.
Lee: A third one?
Debra: Don’t talk about your ex!
Lee: Okay that’s a not to do. Do you get feedback like that?
Debra: So if we get that sort of person we talk to the person and make sure that they are ready for a new relationship.
Lee: What kind of feedback do you get?
Debra: They say that they don’t think they are over them yet because a lot of the conversation was about their ex rather than concentrating on the person in front of them.
Lee: Wow, that’s bizarre. What do you say?
Debra: We have that chat with them about whether they are really ready to go forward with this. That’s a big thing because you have got to have the confidence to go forward with a new relationship. You’ve got to make sure everything is clear from your past.
Lee: Interesting. With people coming knocking on your door so to speak and wanting to find a relationship, what kind of relationships are people looking for these days would you say?
Debra: Some are looking for love, marriage and children. Others are looking for somebody to meet and go out with on a regular basis. Some are looking for someone to go on holiday with. That’s why we do the personal matching because we know what they are looking for.
It’s no good putting someone who wants a wedding with someone who just wants to go to the theatre every so often. There’s no chance that’s going to work!
Lee: Do different ages have different wants? Have you noticed if there is a trend in peoples’ relationship habits over the years?
Debra: The younger people know either they want children or they don’t. That’s the sort of question we can ask before we put them in touch with someone, rather than waiting until they have actually met and gone along for a few months without asking that question. That’s a fairly difficult question to ask on a first or second date.
Lee: Do you ask the difficult questions then that people want to know on the first date? Some people are pretty honest aren’t they, do you want kids or not? So very polarizing, particularly if you reach a certain age. Do you ask those questions?
Debra: If that is important to you then we ask that question of the person we are going to match you with.
Lee: Give us some case studies of happy ever afters. What kind of successes are you seeing?
Debra: We’ve had a couple of people who were in their forties. I’ll change the names, so Sue was divorced with three children and had not dated for twenty years. She was very nervous about starting dating. We introduced her to David who also had three children but she didn’t think, looking at his photos that he would be the right type for her. However she agreed to an introduction and they are still together two years later. She said she would never have met him using the on-line dating because she would have excluded him from the search.
Lee: With the swipe left, right, visual is straight at you. Do you see people change when you talk about the persons’ tastes, interests and personality i.e. the importance of the picture diminishes a little bit?
Debra: It does and that’s what we start off with. We start by telling you about them before we show you their photographs.
Lee: You’ve touched upon the confidence issue there. So if you’ve not been in the dating game for a while and you are a bit nervous, what kind of things do you say?
Debra: We can help you with that confidence. At the start we say this may not work out and you have got to have that certain resilience that you may choose three people and they may not want to meet you. You have to have that resilience and its part of my job to talk you through that and talk you through the reasons why not and then find somebody who does want to meet you.
Lee: Yes because if someone is quite nervous and they get rejected?
Debra: Yes we always say prepare for rejection, it is something that can happen.
Lee: It’s part of life. Do you have people who say I’d like to meet four or five people and have multiple dates on the go?
Debra: We try not to, because that’s not fair to other people.
Lee: You gave us some tip tips before. Let’s hear about some common ones in a relationship.
Debra: Surprisingly the top of the list isn’t looks or body type. It’s about a sense of humour, somebody you can have a laugh with and have fun with. Another one that we get asked a lot is for someone who is kind. Someone to travel with, go to the theatre, share the exciting times as well as the everyday times and also as I mentioned before someone who is independent.
Lee: Someone who is kind, I guess people measure that in different ways. What are the generalistic features in your view of a kind person?
Debra: Someone who looks out for you and is interested in you. Someone who is also interested in other people and isn’t all out for themselves.
Lee: So it’s not always about the money aspect?
Debra: No, I think it goes much deeper than money.
Lee: Do you get that feedback quite a bit in relationships when they come back? Do they say he or she was very kind?
Debra: Yes, or wasn’t as kind as they thought.
Lee: Out of human nature are we kinder or not kind? What’s the variable – are we sixty/ forty, are we winning?
Debra: It’s not quite as stark as that but there are certain facets of their behaviour that just don’t match up with what people want as a partner.
Lee: The business is a franchise isn’t it? Can you just tell us more about that so for people listening who may be interested, what’s involved?
Debra: I chose a franchise because that gives me the support I need to run my business. Imagine setting up a dating agency and getting ten women and no men or vice versa. The background support, marketing and the set- up of the business and how we run is all there for a franchise. You pay the initial one off fee which gives you a geographical area to work and market in and work with people. The you pay a set amount every month dependent on what business you are bringing in.
For me it was about that support and knowing there was somebody at the back of me who knew what was going on who could help me with it.
Lee: What is your advice for people who are in business? What have you learnt about growing a business? Can you give us some of your tips?
Debra: A franchise is a good way if you don’t already have the skillset to start a business. A lot of entrepreneurs think they are going to start a business but you need that background and knowledge of running a business, so that’s certainly of use. For me running a business is about having your goals, knowing what you want to achieve and then looking at how you are going to get there. Always have those goals for your business in mind.
Lee: Great let’s just have a recap for the first, second or third date.
Debra: Be kind to one another, number one! Just go out there and enjoy yourself and try and find out as much as you can about the other person. Focus on them rather than yourself. Don’t talk about your ex.
Lee: I know you are dealing mainly with introductions but have you got any special formula of what makes a long lasting relationship?
Debra: It is about that person who enhances your life. It’s about someone who is there for you and who is thinking about you. It’s about someone who is good for you, brings you out and makes you feel more confident about yourself.
Lee: I can imagine they are few and far between aren’t they? Human beings tend to be, maybe selfish is not the right word but some people look like they tend to look after themselves more than the other person. So if you do find that person that looks after you more than themselves then you have got to stick with them even when the grass is greener on the other side for a moment.
Debra: Yes just start watering your own grass.
Lee: That is the expression of the day. Everybody listening now water your own grass!
Debra: It’ll go green eventually.
Lee: Okay to wrap up the show, usual question, and the strap line of the show is achieving excellence. Debra in your opinion what is achieving excellence please?
Debra: It’s always striving to do better, to do continuous improvement. Within myself it’s about my education and my learning, my qualifications and being the best version of me. Within my business it’s about having a clear goal, having small consistent efforts to get to that goal. It’s about focusing on what works and learning from others; also taking advice from as many people as you can. Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce is a good one for that.
For my clients it’s about providing the best service that I can. It’s about being honest, having good communication skills and striving to improve as much as you can. That’s what I think.
Lee: Okay, brilliant. Well thank you very much for coming in and Happy Valentine’s day everyone.
Article Transcription by Terry Capostagno
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