PETALING JAYA: Matchmaking agency Dateworks turned to virtual dates to keep its matchmaking business afloat during the movement control order (MCO) period and will continue the strategy post-MCO, since most are still not comfortable with social meet-ups yet.
CEO Joanne Ng (pix) said it has started offering clients two options since the conditional MCO took effect – to go on virtual dates or attend one-to-one physical dates.
“We have to accept that Covid-19 will be around to stay and learn to live with it,“ she told SunBiz.
Challenged by restrictions during the MCO, Dateworks had on April 17 launched its virtual dates matchmaking service. Ng encouraged singles to try virtual dating for the next three to six months as it is safe, noting that finding a relationship is never easy.
“Some existing clients feel that the classic matchmaking works better but we feel that during this time, it’s important for them to meet new people and connect online. MCO shouldn’t be a reason to stop connecting,“ said Ng.
She said the agency still uses its personalised matchmaking services to match clients for the virtual dates and will verify all clients’ profiles.
“The date is set up on a virtual platform and clients have a different experience when it comes to dating. It’s about changing and adapting to the new norm,“ said Ng.
In its first week of launch, Dateworks made over 30 sales for the virtual dates, which Ng attributed to the lower price, compared with its classic matchmaking packages.
“A date that used to cost RM900 to RM1,000 is now about RM200,“ said Ng.
Sales of its classic matchmaking packages have dropped at least 60% starting from the end of March due to the MCO.
“We moved all the appointments online. People were still open to try (our matchmaking services) and our sales wasn’t affected that much at first. But ever since the third phase of MCO started, it (business) is quite bad already.”
Starting April, Ng observed that people were more careful with spending, as there are keen clients who are unable to sign up due to financial constraints. She added that some clients will request to pay a deposit, which is not the company’s payment policy.
“We usually collect upfront payment for the service but now there’s no choice. We even extended the instalment period longer.”
Although incurring losses, Ng has made it clear to its 12 employees (including four matchmakers) that she is not going to lay anyone off if they can come together as a team to sustain the business.
“Thankfully, we have had a good few years. We can still survive for the next few months, but every month now, the losses are quite bad. Sadly, the government subsidies are not helping us much. It’s really ‘down to earth’,“ shared Ng.
Ng revealed that she did not take any pay for April to ensure that her staff can bring home their pay.
“There are certain sacrifices that every one must make. I really hope things will go back to normal soon. It’s important that I keep my employees with me because most of them have been with me for a long time. I think it’s only right for me to ensure that their life is not affected that much,“ said Ng.
Despite the setbacks, Ng is adamant to continue with the business. Dateworks has 5,600 active members.
“We’re the one and only Malaysian matchmaking company that has been around (since 2017) and we’ve also built a name for ourselves. It’s been my dream from the start to help Malaysians find love,” said Ng.