How Sylvan Learning’s Business Model Creates a One of a Kind Franchise Opportunity with the Lowest Fees in the Industry
How Sylvan Learning’s Business Model Creates a One of a Kind Franchise Opportunity with the Lowest Fees in the Industry

From its streamlined royalty rate to its inclusive approach to managing operations, Sylvan Learning sets its franchisees up for long-term success from day one.

As demand in the supplemental education segment of the franchising industry continues to grow, brands are competing for new and innovative ways to stand out from the competition. For Sylvan Learning, that competitive edge begins with its top tier programs—the brand’s 40+ years of experience combined with a focus on staying ahead of the latest trends both in and outside of the classroom continue to resonate with families across the country. But it isn’t just the brand’s relationship with consumers that enables it to outpace other concepts. Sylvan Learning also boasts a unique business model that’s attractive to both existing and aspiring franchisees.

Part of what makes Sylvan’s business model so unique is that it’s all encompassing. The brand’s corporate team and franchisees have worked together to identify what local owners need in order to be successful, and set up the systems and processes that ensure those tools and resources are made available. That then means that on top of an affordable initial investment rate, Sylvan Learning franchisees are better prepared to see a profit than others who are working with the competition.

Unlike their competitors who charge a royalty rate and then also charge a fee for national marketing and numerous other fees, Sylvan Learning offers an all-in flat royalty rate of 16 percent that’s designed to save local owners money in the end while positioning them to bring in higher revenues than the competition. That rate includes payments to the brand’s national ad fund, mandatory student assessments and all online training resources, including e-learning courses and web conferences, as well as a full-time corporate team that helps source and secure contracts on behalf of franchisees. It also covers fees that were previously associated with Sylvan’s digital platform SylvanSync—instead of being charged up to $2.50 per session, the fees are now part of the all-in royalty rate. Sylvan University Now, an interactive online platform that includes programs created by training specialists for franchisees, center directors, directors of education and teacher certifications, is also included with the brand’s royalty rate along with the brand’s initial training program Sylvan 101, meaning that franchisees don’t have to pay additional fees for their in-person training.

“When looking at ways to enhance our business model, we discovered that brands in the education segment of the franchising industry—ourselves included—were nickel-and-diming franchisees. That really adds up for local entrepreneurs, so, we found a way to simplify the structure and ultimately lower the cost for the franchisees in our system,” said Georgia Chasen, senior director of franchise development for Sylvan Learning. “Now, we offer franchisees an all-in royalty rate that covers all payments to the corporate team. This system allows us to help our franchisees and candidates understand our financial model in advance so they can anticipate the funds that will be due on a monthly basis, better positioning them for long-term success.”

Sylvan Learning’s one of a kind business model also includes upgrades to its curriculum, providing franchisees with the best possible programs to offer both new and existing customers. That’s an especially strong competitive advantage for local owners now with the addition of the SylvanSync program, which allows the brand to make enhancements to its programs in real time as trends shift and new rules are introduced to classroom curriculums. Those changes can be pushed out overnight to Sylvan’s entire franchise system at no additional cost to franchisees, ensuring that the brand’s franchisees are always steps ahead of the latest industry trends.

In addition to that cutting edge technology, Sylvan Learning franchisees also gain access to strong marketing support. The brand’s national advertising and marketing fund creates a road map on a national level that supports franchisees’ local store marketing efforts. That framework becomes a guide for franchisees who then take its strategies and apply them to their own online presence. The ad fund also includes significant online presence, social media platforms, public relations, online directory management, creative development, the national Sylvan Learning website and local central websites that are templated and easy to personalize.

The benefits that come with Sylvan’s business model aren’t easily ignored by existing or aspiring candidates. According to Randy Way, president of Sylvan Learning’s Franchise Owners Association, the brand’s unique approach to building a strong franchise system makes a significant difference.

“Our business model is really all encompassing. That’s what makes the difference between Sylvan and the competition,” he said. “Everything is built into Sylvan’s system right off the bat. There are never going to be additional costs that come as a surprise—all of our training and support is available for franchisees to use as they need it.”

That robust support system includes both initial and ongoing training, as well as access to all that the brand’s operations, information and technology and operations help desks have to offer. Sylvan franchisees also gain a competitive edge through the company’s commitment to developing additional products and resources for franchisees, which then in turn become additional revenue opportunities for the brand’s growing network of owners.

“As a franchisor, we’re paving the road for our franchisees to be successful. Our goal is to deliver the best educational programs, build the best business model, be leaders in the market, enhance the Sylvan brand and grow the overall system, which is something that we’ve been able to accomplish over the course of 2017,” said John McAuliffe, CEO of Sylvan Learning. “Our business model allows us to provide a higher level of support for our franchisees at a lower rate than any other brand in the industry. That innovative approach to franchising is what has enabled Sylvan to distance itself from the competition over the past three decades, and it’s what will continue to propel our business forward in the future.”