Elaine still bringing love to Belfast and celebrating 5 years with When the Music Stops

Elaine Graham gives her views on how she has successfully brought love to Belfast for more than 5 years Time has flown by for Elaine Graham, the When the Music Stops franchisee in Belfast, Northern Ireland. At the start of 2007 she began to look at franchises and business options that she could get involved in and in April of that year settled on When the Music Stops and became a franchisee, on a mission to bring high quality dating events and ultimately love to the people of Belfast and Northern Ireland.

The ensuing 5 years have gone incredibly quickly for Elaine and during that time she has been responsible for literally thousands of dates and many love matches too. It has been an enjoyable time for Elaine and one that she now looks back on with enormous pride and satisfaction having ‘made a difference’ to the people of Belfast and on a job well done. We caught up with Elaine to ask her about her role and the success she had enjoyed during the 5 years she has spent as a franchisee and also what it was that attracted her to the world of dating initially. Says Elaine “I was looking for a business that I could run together with my friend Julie, and I wanted something that would be both fun and rewarding. Between us we have loads of experience in both customer service and the hospitality industry so When the Music Stops seemed like the perfect opportunity. Speed Dating was brand new in Northern Ireland back then but as the word has spread about the quality of our events it has become much more acceptable.

Over the 5 years our events have become much more polished affairs, we like to make sure our events are a night out rather than just a couple of hours at the start of the evening and this has gone down well with our client base who appreciate the value for money we provide. We have concentrated on Speed Dating as that is what we are good at, I think it genuinely works, people are actually introduced to each other and then given the opportunity to get in touch again so all the hard work is done for them. The atmosphere in the room when everyone is ‘dating’ is fantastic and really gratifying for us.” So it has been a concept that has worked extremely well for Elaine and it must be very satisfying to see the success that has been generated over the years. She is now often sold out for events months in advance, what is it then that has made her so successful? Elaine continues: “We have worked hard to become the best over the last 5 years. We focus on customer service and aim to make every event a great experience for all who attend. We offer the ‘full service’ version of Speed Dating which starts with calming nerves, building customers confidence to making sure no-one is left alone and anyone who comes on their own is introduced to some potential new friends of the same sex as well as potential partners.

We also enter and send out matches which our competitors do not tend to do – it is left up to attendees to do this themselves and the feedback we receive is that this doesn’t work as well. We strive to sell out all our events and enjoy each and every one and the different mix of people that each one brings. I find that being pro-active helps to ensure a good event – being really well organised and making sure everything is ready and everyone is prepared so that on the night we can concentrate on the customer. Also pro-actively promoting the event in advance is the best way of making sure as many tickets can be sold as possible and keeping an eye on the bookings to see whether it may be necessary to do a special offer or something to balance male and female ticket sales – this is an enormously popular concept with women now and we could often sell more than we have available. This is very pleasing as initially there was some hostility to Speed Dating and even prejudice against it and it’s been wonderful to turn them round so comprehensively”

So a fascinating insight into Elaine’s world of dating and I think it is very clear why she has been so successful. She has been very focused, very professional and very customer focused. We thanked Elaine for her time and wish her well for the next 5 years – with her flair for business I can see a lot more success around the corner.

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