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How Sylvan Sets Franchisees Up to Successfully Retire from Franchise Ownership

With nearly 40 years of serving students, the leading education brand helps franchisees transition into retirement

By Nick Powills1851 Franchise Publisher
SPONSORED 8:08AM 05/15/18

George and Paula Rolfe began discussions with the Sylvan Learning brand back in 1983 before becoming Louisiana’s first franchisees with the opening of their Shreveport location in 1984.

Now, more than 30 years later, the Rolfes can’t imagine having done anything else with their careers.

“This is undoubtedly the most rewarding thing I did with my life,” said Paula Rolfe, who was a teacher before becoming a Sylvan Learning franchisee. “I’ve seen so many children turn their lives around. The success they had with us led to other successes.”

For Paula, it didn’t matter if she was helping enrichment students or students in remedial programs. She says that leaving an impact on the lives of local families made 34 years as a franchisee fly by.

“Parents have always been so grateful,” said Paula. “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.”

The Rolfe’s passion for impacting students in the local community led to longstanding success with their Sylvan Learning franchise. They eventually opened a second center in Louisiana, and they ultimately ended up teaching the children of children that were students early on in their careers.

“Working with Sylvan was extremely rewarding both economically and professionally,” said George Rolfe who was a civil engineer before becoming a Sylvan franchisee. “When we did decide that it was time to retire, Paula and I were definitely nervous.”

It would be understandably difficult to transition from a life of helping children achieve academic goals far beyond what they and their parents might have imagined possible. Just like how kids develop a drive to learn more after finding success in school, the Rolfes never wanted to stop helping kids find that drive.

“It was hard to retire in 2018 because this brand has meant so much to us,” said George. “We made 90 percent of the Sylvan conferences in our 30 plus years with the brand, and we always loved talking to members of the corporate team. We also loved our staff, many of whom were with us for over ten years. But Sylvan corporate team members Georgia Chasen and Courtney Wells have made the transition a smooth one.”

The Rolfes give Chasen, the Vice President of Franchise Development for Sylvan Learning, and Wells, a Franchise Development Manager, a lot of credit for making it possible to retire from such a fulfilling career.

“The transition team at Sylvan did a great job of not only generating interest in our locations, but also made sure that we approved of the people who would be taking over for us,” said Paula. “We ended up selling to two local residents from Shreveport. One was a former principal, and the other a former assistant principal.”

When you work with a nearly 40-year-old brand basically since its inception, you’re bound to see a lot of changes. While the Rolfes certainly experienced the franchise system’s evolution, they said the thing that mattered most never changed.

“Kids are still kids, and parents are still parents,” said Paula. “When you’re passionate about making an impact, that’s all that matters. Sylvan invests in franchisees because we have the passion for our local communities, and that drives us.”

As they’re now enjoying retirement, the Rolfes have no regrets from their time with Sylvan Learning. While it was hard to transition after so many years with the brand, Sylvan put their minds at ease knowing that their location is in good hands.

To learn more about Sylvan Learning franchises, visit

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