When the first Sylvan Learning center opened in 1979, supplemental education was mostly left to parents and independent tutors. There weren’t many big businesses offering dedicated academic support for children. Sylvan quickly caught on with parents eager to find reliable help for their children, and in the four decades since the brand was founded, the demand for supplemental-education services has only increased. At the same time, the field of supplemental-education providers has crowded, which led Sylvan to launch a variety of enrichment STEM programs. Although a number of education brands have set out on the path that Sylvan paved, none benefit from the 40 years of operational refinement and brand awareness that Sylvan enjoys, which is just one of the reason’s it remains the leader in its segment.
We talked to members of Sylvan’s corporate team as well as owners from markets across the country to learn why the brand continues to stand out from the crowd. Here are the top ten reasons to choose Sylvan.
1. The demand for supplemental education is huge, and it’s growing.
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.
— Ashish Ghandhi, a Sylvan franchisee in Reston, Virginia
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.
— Paty Russo, a Sylvan multi-unit franchisee on Long Island, New York
2. No education experience required.
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.
— Ashish Ghandhi
Sylvan has offered us amazing support. The first thing that jumped out at us when we came on board was Sylvan’s structure of support. The corporate team has been a huge help in every part of the transition; answering questions, training us, walking us through the process. They are doing everything possible to set us up for success.
— Josh Ploch, a new Sylvan multi-unit franchisee in Oklahoma
3. An emotional return on your investment.
Above all else, I love the lasting impact Sylvan leaves on its families. We’ve seen kids start out with us in elementary school, and as they near high school graduation, it’s very touching to see how Sylvan has led them to a longstanding path of academic success.
— Kim Teixeira, a Sylvan multi-unit franchisee in Chesapeake, Virginia
Sylvan struck me as a strong business opportunity, but also a chance for real personal fulfillment, and that’s exactly what I was looking for.
— Mike Kelley, new Sylvan multi-unit franchisee in Minnesota
4. 40 years of experience.
We’ve been at this for nearly 40 years, so there’s not much we haven’t seen. We’ve got systems and support in place to make sure all of our owners have everything they need to be effective and satisfied. We’ve streamlined the entire operations model so that new owners can jump in and get on their feet right with a strong business right away.
— Georgia Chasen, Sylvan’s vice president of franchise development
5. An expansive reach.
Sylvan currently has more than 750 points of presence in markets across the world, with more than 5,000 school relationships.
Our network of franchises extends across the world, which proves that our model works in any market, and more importantly, it means wherever an owner establishes a territory, they are likely to have neighbors in the business. That means support is always available, wherever you are.
— Georgia Chasen
Sylvan also offers satellite locations to increase access for students across franchisee territories.
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.
— Ashish Ghandhi
6. It’s more than just math.
Sylvan provides resources for an extensive range of academic disciplines, and the franchise system is the largest national branded provider of STEM service and college prep courses.
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.
— Alan Catlett, Sylvan’s vice president of product management
I enjoy teaching SAT and ACT prep because I love seeing our students improve and the excitement in their eyes when their scores increase. One of the best parts of my job is when scores come out and I get texts and calls from my students and their parents about how proud they are that they accomplished their goals.
— Kent Kolbow, a multi-unit Sylvan franchisee in Indiana
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.
— Ashish Ghandhi
7. Leaders in education technology.
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. Anytime I run into any problem, we have a tool for me to get the assistance I need. Anytime a student is having difficulty with a subject, we have a tool to make it easier. The iPad programs for Sylvan Sync are a fun and engaging way for students to approach any subject. The technological applications are endless.
— Paty Russo
The more that educators throughout the country try to utilize technology to do the teaching for them without having the human touch and coaching, the more it fails. I think for Sylvan, and especially with our mobile platform SylvanSync, we leverage the curriculum in a way that is making it easier for the teacher to have more one-on-one impactful and teachable moments, while incorporating technology that is keeping students engaged and excited about learning. So we still need that certified teacher and one-on-one connection with each student to make the most impact that we can.
— Randy Way, a multi-unit franchisee in Washington state
8. Proven results.
Sylvan students typically see two-to-three times more growth in math and reading compared to the national average.
This is undoubtedly the most rewarding thing I did with my life. I’ve seen so many children turn their lives around . . . Parents have always been so grateful. Some have said that their kids wouldn’t have finished high school, let alone get to college if it weren’t for Sylvan Learning. Success breeds success, and once these kids pick up skills during our programs, they always want to do more.
— Paula Rolfe, a former franchisee who recently retired after 30 years of joint ownership with her husband, George
9. Unparalleled name recognition.
Everyone I spoke to said Sylvan was the premier brand for supplemental education. It’s time-tested and has the strongest brand. I wanted to provide the best service by joining the best company; it was a no-brainer.
— Mike Kelley
When parents and students think of supplemental education, Sylvan is the name that first comes to mind. That’s an invaluable advantage, and one that we’ve worked very hard to achieve and continue to work hard to maintain.
— Georgia Chasen
That’s the average gross revenue among Sylvan’s top 25 percent of territories.
When you compare the return to other franchises, dollar for dollar, Sylvan has a high upside.
— Ashish Ghandhi
Working with Sylvan was extremely rewarding, both economically and professionally . . . It was hard to leave the business after so many years, but we were in good shape.
— George Rolfe
To open a Sylvan Learning, it ranges from $70,980 to $159,885. To learn more about franchise opportunities, visit SylvanFranchise.com.