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How to Succeed as a Multi-Unit Franchisee: Matthew Sullivan, Sylvan Learning

A second-generation franchisee with the supplemental learning chain, this Texas-based entrepreneur has a unique perspective on what it takes to make a successful franchise group.

By Chris LaMorte1851 Franchise Editor
Updated 9:09AM 06/08/21

For Matthew Sullivan, a franchisee with Sylvan Learning* for 10 years, franchising is a family business. His father, Mike, was also a franchisee. According to Sullivan, that was a big leg up in the beginning. That’s because when it came time to buy into the brand, he felt like he had a clear inside look at the business.

“My due diligence was simply learning from my dad,” he said. “I didn’t have to do as much of the research that other franchisees might have to do. I could see what Sylvan was capable of in terms of a business.” 

But choosing your brand, while critical, is only the first step if you have your eyes on growth. If you choose to expand your portfolio, you have your systems, process and human resources down cold, said Sullivan, who currently owns four Sylvan Learning centers.

“As we open up new centers, we're not out there trying new things starting from scratch,” he said. “We have systems and processes that have proven to work on a consistent basis.  So when opening up a new center, all we're doing is replicating what we've already done before.”

Sullivan also said that when you’re running more than one unit, you have to learn one important lesson: You can’t be everywhere at once. You need support.

“A very good leadership team is important,” Sullivan said. “When you go to open up a new center … you have to have somebody there to take over the reins of the center you’re running. That can be a difficult transition for some, but it needs to be done if you want to scale. We have an established leadership team in each center, so if we pull one person out, the center that they've been in is not going to collapse.”

A good team is a key to accomplishing that, said Sullivan: “One of the things every business deals with is turnover. It's important that you have a solid depth of tenured directors and leaders. It can really cause a lot of problems if you go to expand, but then you lose some people.” 

Watch the full video interview above, or click here to watch it on YouTube.

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.