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Franchise at First Sight

Entrepreneur meets his match in a dating service franchise
April 1, 2003
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/60416

Mark Manlin is single, successful and looking for love--the ideal client for dating service It's Just Lunch. That's why, after hearing about it on the radio, he decided to give it a try. What he didn't yet know was that one perfect match would come only a few months later, when he decided to purchase and open his own It's Just Lunch franchise in Detroit.

Manlin, 37, also owner of a real estate development company in St. Louis, was never intrigued by the dating services he had seen before, but appreciated It's Just Lunch's mission to provide quality lunch dates for busy professionals in a discreet, no-pressure atmosphere. "I knew how difficult it was as a single person to meet quality single people," Manlin confides. "I like the efficiency and that it caters to an upscale clientele."

Dating directors interview clients about their personalities, interests and experiences and usually arrange the first date within 24 to 48 hours of membership. Because of the importance of the one-on-one interaction between the staff and their clients, Manlin handpicks each employee, choosing excellent listeners and "people people."

Expanding with more franchises in Michigan and possibly Canada, It's Just Lunch's 2003 sales are projected at $1.5 million. Manlin is hopeful for the future success of It's Just Lunch, both as a franchisee and a client. As he puts it, "It's a testament to the fact I believe in the company that I would be a client."

--April Y. Pennington & Amy Lee