In the more than 39 years since the company’s founding, Sylvan Learning has established itself as the leader in supplemental education, growing to more than 750 points of presence worldwide and expanding its service offerings to include programs for virtually every educational need.
The brand’s growth has been hastened in recent years by new ownership groups who are interested in investing in Sylvan. Here are 10 of the most valuable benefits Sylvan offers owners, according to Paty Russo, a multi-unit Sylvan franchisee in Huntington, New York; Ashish Gandhi, a Sylvan owner in Reston, Virginia; and Alan Catlett, Vice President of Product Management at Sylvan Learning.
1. The most advanced technology in the industry.
Russo: In my time with Sylvan, I’ve been so impressed with the technology available for owners, tutors and students. Every aspect of the business utilizes amazing technology. Any time that I run into any problem, we have a tool for me to get the assistance I need. Any time that a student is having difficulty with a subject, we have a tool to make it easier. The teacher led iPad-based programs for SylvanSync are a fun and engaging way for students to approach any subject. The technological applications are endless.
2. Increased access to students through satellite locations.
Gandhi: Satellite locations are a very valuable proposition for Sylvan owners and our students. Families often have to travel from across the territory to get to their Sylvan location, and having a satellite location makes it much easier to keep students in the program if they move or if the commute to the original location proves too strenuous.
3. An emotional return on investment.
Russo: I opened my first Sylvan location a little over a year ago, and all year I’ve been thinking, ‘why didn’t I do this years ago?’ I was plugging away in the corporate world for years, and this change in my career has been so satisfying. I love working with my teachers and meeting students and families. We are working to help kids and support our community, and I’ve never before found so much fulfillment with my work.
Gandhi: My family was involved with Sylvan long before I became an owner. Our son was struggling with his writing skills and we enrolled him at a Sylvan. Within months, his writing had significantly improved. So we know the value that Sylvan can provide for families, and we’re proud to be extending that value to more families today.
4. A franchisee-friendly licensing agreement.
Gandhi: When buying into a franchise, the licensing agreement can be a complicated and overwhelming aspect of the process, but we found that Sylvan’s model was by far the easiest to understand. And when you compare the return to other franchises, dollar for dollar, Sylvan has a high upside.
Russo: Part of what drew me to Sylvan when I was doing my due diligence was the flexible business model. I saw how the core product could be extended in a number of different ways; helping local community groups with grants, setting up satellites, bringing STEM programs to scouts and helping students with special needs. There are just so many ways that you can make the business work for you. Most other franchises are far more rigid about their model and how it's applied.
5. The largest branded provider of STEM services.
Catlett: In many ways, the STEM program really encapsulates what Sylvan is all about. It’s a completely portable, completely standardized product that each location can roll out easily and effectively, it provides us with an avenue to reach out to the community, and it’s designed with a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to learning. Those are all key elements of the Sylvan model.
Gandhi: We’ve seen an enormous demand for STEM curriculum and services, and Sylvan has been emphasizing and improving its offerings to meet that demand, making sure that families know Sylvan isn’t just about tutoring, it’s also available as a STEM resource. We started a STEM summer camp program, and we had a wait list of families who wanted to join within weeks of announcing the program. Currently, a quarter of all of our incoming calls are regarding STEM services.
6. Unrivaled franchisee training and support.
Gandhi: The training and support programs Sylvan has offered us have been amazing. We have our own dedicated franchise business consultant, who we work with on weekly calls to discuss the previous week’s sales, outline future goals and help with anything else we may need. We have a marketing consultant, who has been extremely helpful guiding our local marketing efforts. And there is also a support line that is available seven days a week and is a quick and easy resource for day-to-day questions. There’s no doubt in my mind that a lot of our success is due to the help we’ve received from Sylvan’s support team.
7. A unique and effective approach to learning.
Catlett: Most other learning services are focused on math, test prep or some other specific subject, and as a result, they get customers who need help in that one subject and then move on. Because Sylvan takes a holistic approach, we attract customers with a broad spectrum of needs, and we’re able to capture them throughout their school life. In some cases, we’ll work with students from kindergarten all the way through college.
8. Universal brand recognition.
Gandhi: Most of our clients already knew of Sylvan before they started searching for a tutor. A lot of parents even attended a Sylvan when they were in school, which is always a big benefit when we’re talking to a family that’s considering enrolling their child. People know the brand, so they feel confident in hiring us. The other brands are an unknown quantity, and we’re proud to tell families that we’ve been around for so long for a reason.
9. Substantial growth opportunities.
Russo: I recently established my second location in Mineola/Garden City, and I’m so excited to get it off the ground only a little more than a year after I joined Sylvan. One of the reasons I decided to become a Sylvan owner was that the business model encourages growth. Because each territory is exclusive, neighboring franchisees won’t cannibalize each other’s sales. Sylvan is built so that the franchise grows through its owners.
10. A growing consumer demand for supplemental education.
Gandhi: We’ve seen an enormous demand for our services. Students and families are striving for greatness, and competition in schools is only growing higher. Sylvan gives students an opportunity to expand on what’s taught in schools to get an edge, particularly where it comes to college admissions.
Russo: Demand for supplemental education services is increasing. One big sign of that is the amount of new supplemental education brands that are cropping up. But none of them can provide students with the breadth of services and level of individual attention that Sylvan offers. Parents are looking for a customized approach, not a one-size-fits-all solution. Sylvan is the only brand that has the resources to meet that demand.