Carl Keating, Keller TX 006TWhen franchisee Carl Keating opened Mathnasium of Keller, TX, establishing the Mathnasium brand in his area was of utmost importance. Through optimized visibility, adherence to branding and center presentation, and focused networking, he managed to connect with his target market and make “Mathnasium” a buzzword in the local education scene.

A Showcase Storefront

Carl knew that selecting the right location would be critical as he worked to grow his business. “I picked a site that had fantastic road visibility—it has the highest car count in my market,” he recalls. “It’s right next to a little courtyard, with a statue that kids love, and it has two sides of windows so we get a lot of daylight.” During the center set up process, “I designed the space to our company’s standards and placed a lot of emphasis on branding. [My goal was to create a space that] looked more upscale to parents. The whole idea was to [design] an attractive center and to make it a place where moms felt safe dropping off their kids.”

Keller Windows

To create a well-branded center from the outside in, first, “I have window graphics with the Numbers campaign,” Carl says.

Keller Ext

Because he has a corner space (and effectively, two storefronts), he has signage on both sides and a neon A+ sign over his front doors, making his center more visible and engaging to passers-by.

Keller Int

Carl also wanted his center to project cleanliness, openness, and professionalism. On the inside, “there are no doors, except for the bathroom. It’s an open space. I emphasized the colors black, white and red and utilized the recommended furniture from Ikea.”

Keller shelves

“For storage space, I have red storage cubicles in my shelves—they keep clutter out of sight while maintaining the branding and keeping materials accessible to Instructors when they need it.

Keller Mathnasium Glass

In addition, “I use the Mathnasium logo in more than one spot, and everything on the wall fits in with our branding.”

Carl’s decision to leverage physical visibility and use his center’s location as a tool to draw people in and gain brand awareness was a wise one—he reports that drive-by traffic is his biggest lead source. “It’s all about creating front door appeal from your customer’s viewpoint,” he says. “I’ve gotten a lot of recognition from our local market because of how good the center looks.”

Identifying and Pursuing Worthwhile Networking Opportunities

To gain traction for the Mathnasium brand and solidify his center’s reputation, Carl focused on building professional relationships with key individuals in local schools and in the area at large. “I do a lot of work with the school district and through PTAs,” he tells us. “With the school district, I volunteer as a community ambassador. I attend school board meetings [hosted by the superintendent] with the objective of becoming one of the many people in our area who knows what’s going on [in education]. Whether it’s changes in curriculum or state law… anything that affects the school district, I’m one of the first to hear about it, and I share the information with parents.

“I’m also involved with many PTAs in varying degrees,” Carl continues. With 38 campuses, Keller ISD is fairly large, so he limits his involvement to schools close to his center, partnering with four high schools, two middle schools, and six elementary schools. “I’ve made a half dozen presentations since the beginning of the year for PTAs, talking about math, math education, and tips and tricks for getting kids to like math. One of the elementary schools invited me in to their Get Ready for Summer seminar for parents, because we offer kids something to do over the summer. I’ve also done donations and sponsorships—I’ve sponsored two math and science nights as well as a fire safety night. We had our logo on giveaways, on a banner, and on the schools’ marquees. When the event’s announced and listed on the marquee, parents see our brand name for a full week when they drive up to drop off and pick up their kids.”

While Carl’s found other marketing tactics such as print ads in a popular local paper and postcard mailings to be somewhat effective, he reports that storefront branding and community networking/involvement have proven most successful in terms of making Mathnasium a household name that really resonates with parents. Getting out there and networking does come with a time investment, so “allocate your time well,” he advises. “There’s a lot of administrative duties that come with running a center, so make sure you have [processes set up] at your center to ensure certain tasks can be handled while you spend your mornings and early afternoons networking with schools.

Finally, “Make contact; don’t be shy,” Carl concludes. “It’s relatively easy to find the names and email addresses of PTA officers. Once you get a hold of that information, send them something about Mathnasium and [let them know you’re here to offer support]. Let them know you want to be the business of choice when it comes to donations, parent presentations, or providing giveaways. All that contact will pay off because it’ll get your name out there over time. I had one PTA president move from an elementary school to a middle school—through her transition, I was able to get involved with the middle school. And never say no [to a worthwhile sponsorship opportunity],” he adds. “That’s the best advice I can give.”