Elizabeth Lyons

David LyonsRaising your brand’s profile and projecting the right identity for your business is a challenge that almost all entrepreneurs face. In this two-part series, we’ll share the visibility and promotional strategies that center owners David and Elizabeth Lyons used to put Mathnasium of North Dallas, TX on the radar as far as local families and educators are concerned.

Nothing gets your business off to the right start like picking a prime location. David and Elizabeth went into the location search with an eye toward possibilities. “It’s good to have a preconceived notion of what you want, but sometimes the best place is completely different,” Elizabeth advises. “When we first saw this location, it was a mess. It was three spaces that had been gutted out and cobbled together to make one big space. We had to be open to the possibility of what it could become.”

“To be honest, I was looking for a space in a newer complex,” David recalls. “This is an older complex, so I was a little surprised that we ended up choosing [to locate here]. But because of the deal we got on the space and where the complex was positioned, it was perfect for us.”

David and Elizabeth ended up choosing a space in a well-established shopping center with high foot and drive by traffic. They’re surrounded by businesses that cater to parents and families (among others), such as a Starbucks, a swim school, and a small gym. “We looked for a long time and it was hard to find the right space!” Elizabeth recalls. “It’s a popular shopping area, and there’s a stop light when you come in and out, so when people are sitting at that light, there we are.”

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With the lease signed for a great location, David and Elizabeth set about crafting a space that’s uniquely Mathnasium. “There’s some architecture here that’s fun and unique, such as archways and columns,” David explains. “We kept these, and it’s really made the place look great. It’s a different look. We got creative with these details.”

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In the interest of attracting the attention of passersby, the Lyonses change their storefront decorations seasonally to spice things up, throwing in fun elements that draw in parents and kids. For instance, “At Christmas, we put fake snow in the window and we had red, white, and silver ball ornaments hanging at different levels all across the front. Then we had wrapped packages that had little signs sticking out of them listing our holiday specials,” Elizabeth tells us.

“Since location is so big for us and it’s such a big draw for new customers, we feel like it’s important to invest some of our marketing dollars in our storefront window. Behind the front window there’s a brick ledge that goes all the way across the front. It’s covered with a black board and we use it as a display,” she explains. When decorating, “I’ll go out in the parking lot and look in, just to see what customers can see,” she adds. “It’s amazing what you see when you go outside and actually look in your own windows, because from the inside you may think that what you have up there is pretty cool, but what you see in the parking lot is totally different.

“While an ‘Is Your Child Being Left Behind in Math?’ poster stays up year round because people tend to stop and look at it all the time, this summer, we also have a poster with the ‘Make it a Mathnasium Summer’ logo and the image of the boy jumping at the beach. It fills up one whole window section,” David describes. “Then we have sand buckets, flip flops, and a floatation ring in the window too. As a general rule, we don’t want to put too much in the window because we want people to look in and see how open, bright, and inviting it is inside.”

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And people do just that. “We spend so much time cleaning the windows because kids leave little hand, finger, and nose prints on the windows when they stop and look in!” Elizabeth tells us.

One of the best selling points about Mathnasium is that it provides a learning environment for children that is quite unlike what they’ve experienced in a conventional classroom. Elizabeth and David have incorporated fun, personal touches into their center décor that drive home this point. “We have plants in front of the center and on the sidewalk area, some cool lights… every once in a while we’ll change it up and move the furniture around a bit too,” says Elizabeth. “We get bored, and I bet the kids get bored too. It gives them something new to talk about when they come in.”

Of particular note are the endearing crafts the Lyonses have throughout their center. “David takes home all our stubby pencils and he makes different kinds of artwork out of them. He’s made a working clock, a card holder… all sorts of different things,” Elizabeth explains.

north dallas pencil art collage

“We also found this material at Ikea that has numbers written out in words—we made artwork out of that too.”

To engage their students further, David and Elizabeth consistently make fun activities an integral aspect of their center’s environment. “This week, David went through and cut out five or six different newspaper articles. In each article, there’s something about math. So we ask our students, ‘Can you find counting on? Can you find percentages?’ The kids have to go through the articles and identify all the math used in them,” Elizabeth tells us. “It’s little things like that that we all really enjoy. We have contests like this all the time.”

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In terms of jumpstarting their business growth, “our location continues to blow us away,” Elizabeth says. “When we ask people how they heard about Mathnasium, an overwhelming percentage found out about us by driving or walking by. People are just going up and down the sidewalk all the time. Having all this foot traffic made a huge difference!”

“The key thing for us was locating near businesses that cater to the same demographic. And it definitely didn’t hurt to be near a Starbucks!” David concurs. And, it doesn’t hurt that parents and kids like what they see when they walk by. Because of the care and attention David and Elizabeth have put into choosing a location and decorating it in an appealing way, they’ve managed to show their local market that Mathnasium is a fun and inviting place where kids can boost their math skills. Overall, “It’s open. It’s bright. We keep it clean, neat and uncluttered and pay attention to the detail in the windows,” he concludes. “The kids love the art on the walls. We put our personalities into it for sure, and that’s made our center so welcoming to [current and potential] customers.”