Ditch the Dating Apps: Professional Matchmaker Helps Singles Find Love
By Jordan Houston
It’s February, valentine season, and love is in the air – unless it’s not.
Cue renowned professional matchmaker Erica McKay.
The Minnesota native runs her own matchmaking business, Erica Suzanne Fultz, and has spent over 20 years connecting men and women across the country with their forever partner.
Despite the rise of digital dating apps, McKay has earned a reputation as a passionate and successful matchmaker. Her clientele includes professional athletes and television personalities, including working with an on-air cast member of “The Real Housewives of Orange County.”
In March 2020, McKay expanded its services to Scottsdale.
“I think the clients I work with are quite established. They love to travel and being able to cross over to connect with someone like-minded – that’s often difficult,” says the matchmaker. “If you’re on a dating site, it’s like going to TJ Maxx and looking for a specific Chanel handbag. The biggest hurdle is finding it.
While not all of the clients are celebrities or socialites, McKay says she represents people who are strong, passionate, driven and emotionally mature. They want “a minimum partner to reflect their values and someone who prioritizes a relationship.”
For those feeling especially desperate during Cupid’s Love Month, McKay assures there’s someone for everyone — it’s just a matter of fishing in the right pond.
A modern-day matchmaker
McKay works with a maximum capacity of approximately 20 clients at a time. Prices range from $12,000 for a six-month subscription to $25,000 for a year, depending on customer needs.
Customers can also choose to pause their membership for as long as they want, if they start dating a match, McKay says.
“I’m pretty unique when it comes to twinning, as I also offer coaching,” says the mother of three. “I think everyone has their story, everyone has their journey – who knows what it is, but it affects relationships.”
Prospective clients must first call McKay through its website for a 15-minute phone call, followed by an in-person or Zoom meeting for intake and to create their profile. During this process, McKay gathers as much information as possible about their history, interests and attractions in order to tailor a plan to their needs. Then begins the process of finding like-minded matches.
McKay and his team scour members from the company’s VIP database, and “actively recruit matches based” on client preferences via social media profiles, LinkedIn, etc.
“My team is looking for people and I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m looking for X, Y, or Z,’ or people are calling me, or I’m taking this call for people who want to be in the database,” McKay shares.
The matchmaker thoroughly reviews all potential matches, including conducting background checks, investigating court records and conducting in-person interviews.
After getting the go-ahead from both sides, McKay coordinates the first meeting between the client and the date. She then asks for customer feedback and a breakdown, including a post-date survey. The process is then restructured from there.
A personalized approach
While dating sites like Tinder, Match.com, Bumble, and Hinge are plentiful, McKay offers a more personalized approach for those really looking to settle down.
It’s the one-on-one support, she says, that separates her business from the rest.
“They can get access to me, I’m the only one with the customer contact. I don’t send them to an assistant or another team member,” McKay reveals. “I connect with people on what I’m saying is a soul level I can’t just send them to someone else because I asked them to be vulnerable, I asked them to talk about their (stuff), their dreams, then to dream with me. I am honored to work with them.
During the admissions stages, McKay covers as much ground as possible, ranging from the client’s preferred color to religious and political beliefs, income preferences and birth order.
“When I get to know them, I dig deep,” says McKay. “I talk about their relationship with their parents, the relationship their parents had together, their own relationships in the past. Is there a trauma? Maybe it’s great stuff they’re talking about. They get personal with me.
Be Whole First
McKay says the key to connecting clients with their Lifetime Match is making sure they’re happy with their own lives first.
The professional, who is happily divorced and remarried, encourages clients to focus on work through their “baggage” from previous relationships before adding another person into the mix.
“I want them to call me when they’re like, ‘Oh my God, I have the best life ever and I want someone to be the icing on the cake,'” McKay shares. That’s where coaching comes in. I want people to come into that space so that when we match that and meet their person, it’s lit, instead of dealing with lingering issues from past traumas or ex or whatever.
She adds that she is dedicated, through her work, to helping her clients become the best versions of themselves along the way.
A connector in the soul
McKay is from Stillwater, Minnesota. She graduated from Stillwater Area High School in 1993 and later earned a bachelor’s degree in family social science from the University of Minnesota.
She knew from an early age that she “loved being a connector,” McKay recalled.
“I did an internship in an adoption agency. I was the intermediary between the biological mothers and the future adoptive parents,” McKay recalls. “So I knew connecting was obviously a passion for me, but financially it wasn’t enough.”
The matchmaker’s first post-college job was a brief stint selling fax machines. In 1998, she came across the opportunity to work at a national dating company in downtown Minneapolis called It’s Just Lunch. At 22, she embarked on what was to become a lifelong career in matchmaking.
“I loved it, but it was a big learning moment for me in terms of how to work with clients who are really looking for love and want a relationship, while working with a national chain that was a money,” says McKay.
After about two years at It’s Just Lunch, she launched Love In Style, a matchmaking boutique in downtown Stillwater. She sold it in 2004.
In 2015, McKay returned to full-time matchmaking and launched Erica Suzanne Fultz in 2018.
“My life’s journey really changed my trajectory and my perspectives, as I went through life experiences and a divorce, then being single and meeting my current love,” McKay recalled.
The matchmaker has just married her husband, Tom McKay, whom she met while scouting at work, she laughs. McKay, who says she has a great relationship with her “wasband,” is now co-parenting her three daughters as well as her two stepdaughters.
She says her biggest relationship advice is to establish strong communication skills and manage expectations.
“I don’t have a secret sauce; I’m a connector,” says McKay. “I know that if I can bring people to where I was and help guide them with clarity practices and their energy – whether I match them or not – they will find their person.”
For more information about McKay and its services, visit ericasuzanne.com.