Sylvan Learning Center’s vice president of franchise development on what she loves about the industry.
Georgia Chasen is Vice President of Franchise Development at Sylvan Learning. Chasen came to the role well-prepared, having worked her way up through the franchise development team’s ranks over the past 12 years. As the team leader, she is responsible for overseeing Sylvan Learning’s entire franchise development effort, focusing on both domestic and international development. As Sylvan gears up to celebrate its 40th anniversary, Chasen’s team is working diligently to help many franchisees retire out of the system while bringing on new franchisees to take over ownership at legacy locations.
How did you first get involved with the franchising industry?
Sylvan actually recruited me. I was working for a company that had a distributorship and retail location and was looking for my next career move. Sylvan gave me a call, and 12 years later, the rest is history.
What do you love about the industry?
What I love about the franchising industry is the access to the entire franchise community. That can mean several different things. Sylvan itself has built a community with its franchisees where everyone can connect and share best practices. There is also a larger franchising community including people who have dedicated their lives to franchising and they are also a great resource for anyone who wants to get involved in franchising.
What do you wish you could change in franchising?
Occasionally, there is a misinterpretation that a franchise is a big corporate name, but there are people behind each location, and the owner is usually a local businessperson bringing the best opportunity to their community, and behind them is an entire corporate location helping support them. A big brand name just means there are that many more people working for the success of that local franchisee and their store.
What's the biggest change you've seen in the industry since you started out in franchise development?
I think the biggest change I’ve seen in the industry is that franchisors now see the value of a resale. They’ve attracted talented franchisees to buy a business and have skill sets that can take the franchise to the next level. When I first started, prospects didn’t find it exciting to take over an existing location because it was perceived at a lower initial value purely from a revenue standpoint, but I believe they have significant value for the company and can make significant positive changes for the entire organization.
What makes a great franchisee?
They need to be engaged and passionate about the brand. I hear stories about franchisees that get recognized in the grocery store because they’re wearing their franchise logo. Those are the franchisees that truly represent the brand well.
What's the number one thing that sells franchises?
It’s having a personal experience with the brand. Taking Sylvan for example, if a parent or student or teacher has an experience with Sylvan Learning, inevitably they become a believer and when they believe in the brand, that’s the ultimate sales person. They sell themselves on the brand because they know it works.