Who is JoAnn Ward?
JoAnn Ward is the President and Founder of Master Matchmakers, a high-end personal matchmaking service that has been coaching and matching single men and women for more than 20 years. JoAnn founded the company in Philadelphia in the early 2000s and the business is still family-owned and operated by her and her son, CEO Steve Ward out of Palm Beach, Florida.
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From 2009 to 2013, JoAnn and Steve were Co-hosts and Executive Producers of Vh1’s Tough Love, where they steered over a hundred men and women into healthy, happy relationships.
JoAnn and Steven authored one of the bestselling books on the subject of love, published by Simon & Schuster, “Crash Course in Love.” They are frequently featured in the press as thought leaders and industry experts. They also have developed proprietary technology to prove age and identity, verify photos, and conduct background checks on everyone they represent.
How and why did you become a matchmaker and dating coach?
I started out as a legal head hunter in Washington, D.C. matching attorneys with other attorneys in the legal industry. In the process, I would learn a lot about them: Who they are, what they want, what they’re looking for, and so forth.
Eventually, I would be like, “Oh my God, you’d be so cute with Maryanne.”
They would ask, “Who’s Maryanne?” Then, I would tell them who Maryanne is and before I knew it, people were calling me, not because of their career, but rather to say, “I know you know a lot of people, can you introduce me to somebody?”
Before I knew it, I had this big database of single people. I thought, “Oh my God, I should probably start a business doing this.” My mentor at the time said, “You should start your own company.” I said, “Well, I have no idea how to do that.” So, I went out and worked for other dating services, and figured out what I could do differently to be the best in the industry. The answer was to just be honest. The honesty part is really what took my dream of matchmaking to the next level.
How do you think advances in technology are impacting Dating?
I think dating apps work, but one thing that technology can’t replace is personal service. When you’re dealing with humans, more than anything, people want to know that they’re in a safe environment and that somebody is going to be accountable for the person that they’re going to meet.
When you’re on Bumble or Tinder, or another service, It’s a crapshoot. It’s just a lot of work. When you hire a matchmaking service or a dating service, there is accountability. Somebody is going to hold you accountable for the person that they’re meeting. I really feel that, in general, that’s what people want.
What are some Existing Opportunities to improve the Matchmaking process?
Personalization. If I were to start out in the matchmaking business today, I would focus on opening up a service that would be more personalized. This can be done if you have the technology. For instance, we built the technology in Master Matchmakers to be able to work with people all over the country.
Technology is very expensive. You have to have a good support system and a good team to be able to build it in order to get the results that you want. At Master Matchmakers, our clients are in control of their own portal with that personal service. They can upload their photos. They can see the correspondence, they know who we are trying to find for them, and they’re involved.
It’s very important for the client to feel involved with the experience. If you’re investing money into something, you should be in control of it. I always say, “If you have 40 hours a week to put into a dating app, you might get a good return. You might get something back,” but generally, most people don’t have that time. It’s a full-time job to be on an app or a dating site.
What is your advice to other matchmakers looking to be successful?
100% honesty. And, you also have to manage people’s expectations. I think that is the key to the success of Master Matchmakers – we’re brutally honest and we don’t sugarcoat things. You may not like what you hear, but you want to hear the truth. Sometimes the truth hurts, but it’s okay.
Does career advice for entrepreneurs and startup founders?
Firstly, you should fall in love with what you’re working on, and nurture it.
Secondly, it’s important to stay focused on what’s important so that you have the right balance. For instance, if you’re looking for a paycheck because you have to support yourself, then you need to make sure you have balance because if you are all over the page then something’s got to give. Then you feel like you’re totally confused about where you’re going, and that can be overwhelming.
Thirdly, you need to make sure you are “unique.” It’s important to differentiate your business from others and be passionate about the thing that makes you different.
Lastly, it’s crucial to be responsive and always remain humble. That means making yourself available and getting back to people in a timely matter – regardless of who they are. For instance, when people call me, I always take their call. Even if I can’t speak at that moment, I answer the phone and acknowledge them. You need to make sure that your clients or customers feel that you are listening and hearing them.
Do you think that becoming a Matchmaker was “learned” or did you have a natural knack for it?
Well, I always matched my family members, my neighbors, high school friends, etc. I really enjoyed seeing people happy. I think I just had a knack for putting people together, but never really knew it was going to be a business.
The best part is that when I first launched the business, I was literally pulling from filing cabinets, using pink and blue cards and Polaroid snapshots. Can you imagine pulling out filing cabinets and going, “Oh my God, he’d be so cute with so and so?”
That’s how I used to do my matching until Steven, my son, came along. Steven created all the technology to make it work more effectively and efficiently. I started with pink and blue cards and Polaroid snapshots and built an empire. That’s the beauty of bootstrapping.
#1 mistake or barrier for Entrepreneurs in the Dating/Love game?
A lack of balance. Nobody says you have to work 24/7, but if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re starting out and you’re building your company, you have to have a strong work ethic. At the same time though, it’s important to have a balance between family, your career, and your dating life.
Love and work are constant balancing acts. But, it can be done. You just need some assistance in helping you do that. You have to surround yourself with like-minded people and people that will understand who you are and what you’re trying to achieve.
Top tips for selecting the right matchmaker/dating coach?
The best way to select the right coach or JoAnn Ward matchmaker is to work with who you respect, and who you are aligned with in terms of your thinking. This means working with someone that you can relate to, and that has the appropriate background and experience to understand you. Look for similarities that will allow you to connect with them.