LACEY – After an 11-year career in state government, Wendy Dillon has put her background in counseling to work by launching a personalized dating service called Table For Two NW LLC.
Although the business has a Web site (www.TableForTwoNW.com), it’s not an online dating site, said Dillon, 30. She was inspired instead to help those who have had a bad experience with Internet dating sites, Dillon said.
Dillon, who has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and is registered as a counselor in the state, started her business in February and moved into Lacey’s Marston Center in May. She’s also pursuing a master’s degree in clinical counseling and psychology. Before opening the business, she spent a year doing market research and is focused on those who are serious about finding a long-term relationship. Today, she has about 40 clients and plans an open house and barbecue at 5 p.m. July 25 at the Marston Center, 677 Woodland Square Loop S.E., Lacey.
What did your market research tell you about dating in South Sound?
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It told me there is definitely a need for this type of service in the Olympia area. It also told me there are two separate age demographics – 25 to 39 and 42 to 65. I’m also getting a lot of calls from people who are retirement age or into their 70s. There’s a big retirement community here – people full of life and really looking to meet somebody. That’s been a lot of fun.
How does your service work?
First, I offer a free, 30-minute consultation for everyone who is interested. It has to be a good partnership between me and my clients. We have to get to know each other well and we have to trust each other …
Once we’ve done that and they’ve decided to move forward, I find out what has and hasn’t worked in previous relationships. We do a complete background check: criminal, sex offender, education and employment. I just make sure that people are who they say they are. Once we get through that stage, they are put into my database that helps me make matches based on similar characteristics and personality types. I’ve also met them personally so then I use my judgment. I don’t use pictures. I call them both, and if they agree they want to meet, I set up a reservation at a network of restaurants that are working with me. The whole process is designed to be gentle.
Is the first date always going to be at a restaurant?
It doesn’t have to be, but I prefer to send people to lunch or dinner because there’s a defined end to it. When the waiter brings the check, the date is over. If it’s not going well, it is easier to say thank you, it was a nice evening.
What’s the next level of commitment for the client?
Signing the contract. Membership includes 12 introductions, and there is no set time frame, though it averages about a year. I do not guarantee a number of dates per month because I don’t want to be bound to a date quota. I am committed to sending people out on dates with people they are going to enjoy spending time with.
How much does it cost?
Membership is $1,000. I can take payment up front; I can do four and 12 payments. For some perspective, the typical online dating service costs $45 to $75 a month. I come in right above that, plus you’re getting the personalized service, the safety and security. Right now we’re running a special for $850, and that’s going to run through summer.
Why did you decide not to use pictures?
I just don’t think pictures are an indication of who the person is. And let’s face it, not everyone looks good in pictures. They can be very flattering and unflattering. My goal is to make matches based on something much deeper than physical appearance.
What’s your typical client like?
They are right around 40 and have been divorced a year to two years. Then I have those over 60. They are serious about dating, and they don’t want drama or to hang out at bars.
What’s the minimum age for your clients?
My target demographic begins at 25. Serious relationships make more sense after you have had a little more life experience.
Of those 40 clients, how many are men, how many are women?
I would say I probably have 70 percent women. Women tend to be a little bit more comfortable with the whole process of dating and asking for help. There’s this misconception that if you need a dating service then something must be wrong with you, and that’s absolutely not true.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403