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Written by Michelle Tabler, Alaska Regional Manager
Patti LaFond, owner of BBB accredited coaching and matchmaking company Meet Me for Lunch in Anchorage, met her husband, Chuck, at a ‘break-up’ party she and her ex-boyfriend threw when their relationship ended after seven years.
Yes, that’s how they met.
LaFond started out as a tour operator and eventually specialized in Alaska tours for single women. She advertised the tours in AlaskaMen Magazine as “Experience Alaska and meet Alaskan men along the way.”
The themed packaged tours brought groups to Alaska six times a year, visiting Anchorage, Kodiak, Skagway, Fairbanks and Seward. That was how LaFond honed her matchmaking skills. Meet Me for Lunch evolved from these singles tours to a local service where Patti could facilitate introducing single people to each other to create long lasting relationships.
LaFond, who didn’t know anything about professional matchmaking, checked out other dating franchises before deciding to start her own company. She advertised in magazines, TV, radio and word-of-mouth resulting in a dating machine signing up an average of five people a day. This didn’t exactly sit in line with her values of bringing couples together for long-term relationships —not simply a revolving door dating service.
Today, matchmaking is just one part of her company. Her subsidiary, Dynamic Dating, is the coaching side of her business which includes in-person sessions and two signature eight-module programs. According to her statistics, there have been 90 plus marriages, with another 52 percent of people in her database in long-term relationships.
LaFond is a big supporter of Better Business Bureau after becoming accredited in 2009. She likens her business to a therapist’s office where everything discussed is personal.
“How else would someone check me out because everything is confidential,” she said. “I tell people to check me out with BBB.”
One of her successful matches was Alicia and Conrad Froh who met in 2009 through MMFL and married in 2012. Both were in their mid-50’s at the time. It was Alicia’s second date but Conrad’s ninth or tenth and he was about to give up.
Alicia had tried online dating sites before without success.
“There are too many variables that are missing on online dating sites. You don’t know what you’re getting,” she said. “With Patti’s company, you must pass a background check —she takes out the unknowns.”
When asked about consumers using online dating sites compared to a fee based matchmaking service like hers, LaFond responded that online dating sites are not competition.
“Go try and figure it out on your own,” she said. “Get the ball rolling. You are casting a big net going online with hardly any filters.”
LaFond believes personal coaching and the singles events she organizes sets her apart from other dating companies and has been a component in her success. She adds that woman feel safe using her services because she screens all participants.
LaFond believes dating is a bit different than it was 20, even 10 years ago. In the past, it was customary for men to be expected to pay for the date, while today splitting the check is totally acceptable. It was also once customary for men to make the initial phone call, but today women often make the first move.
One of the biggest differences now is how couples communicate. Between texting, email and social media the dating scene is constantly changing.
But LaFond points out one thing to remain constant is women still seek her out for discretion and security. While men use her services because it is more efficient and less time consuming.
They simply need to show up.
To learn more about Meet Me for Lunch visit meetmeforlunch.net.