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Sylvan Learning Averaged Nearly 2 New Locations Every Month in 2019, Continuing its Expansion in 2020

A proven business model and a tenured, supportive corporate team contributed to significant brand success last year and helped make Sylvan Learning a brand to watch in 2020.

Supplemental and enrichment education brand Sylvan Learning had quite the year of franchise growth in 2019. The brand opened a grand total of 22 new centers in 2019, or almost two per month, and brought over 50 new franchisees into the system through new territory sales and center resales.

As a result of its aggressive growth plan, the brand currently has a double-digit pipeline of centers slated to open in 2020. The timing is perfect, as the company recently made changes that optimize the franchisee experience.

Sylvan Learning made a lot of internal investments in 2019 to set us up for success in 2020,” CEO John McAuliffe said. “We put in a new scheduling and admin system that makes operating a system much easier and migrated our internal technology to a cloud-based solution, which will make the delivery of our programs even more reliable. We are leveraging the fact that we’ve been in business for 40 years, which proves the quality of our product.”

In terms of market growth in 2019, Sylvan Learning sold franchises in new territories in California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Ontario. New centers also opened in the states of Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming.

Sylvan Learning plans to continue growing in all of these markets in 2020, which speaks volumes to the efficient way in which things are done at Sylvan Learning and its forward-thinking franchising approach.

“Our monumental growth in 2019 and projected 2020 growth have to do with a combination of both the strategy put in place by the executive team as well as the mission-driven franchisee candidates that are attracted to joining the Sylvan Learning brand,” Vice President of Franchise Development Georgia Chasen said. “Under the leadership of John McAuliffe, the executive team created an updated business model for the 21st century which included lowering the initial investment and consolidating the royalty fee into a 16% variable structure. All of this has allowed us to attract a new generation of entrepreneurs to Sylvan Learning.”

Chasen also credits much of Sylvan Learning’s franchisee success in 2019 to Senior Director of Franchise Services, Leslie Poteet, and Chief Franchise Operations Officer, Susan Valverde. Valverde is a former Sylvan Learning franchisee who successfully owned and operated multiple units over the course of 14 years before she was brought onto the executive team in 2016. 

Poteet has worked with Sylvan Learning since 2006. She successfully managed multiple units in Massachusetts and Tennessee before joining Sylvan’s corporate operations team on product development and eventually, franchise services.

“Susan, Leslie, and their teams support franchisees who have been in the system for a long time as well as new franchisees,” Chasen said. “Not only do they help all Sylvan Learning franchisees in day-to-day operations, but they also help create and execute long-term growth strategies for each franchisee and their market.”

Poteet noted the high level of cooperation that takes place at the corporate level to help franchisees. There is a significant amount of cross-departmental communication that ensures franchisee queries are answered quickly.

“Instead of trickling information about finance, marketing, education and training independently to franchisees, the corporate team ensures cohesive messaging,” Poteet said. “The leadership team takes a lot of guesswork out for franchisees and helps them learn where to focus their efforts. It’s more legwork for us, but it’s the right thing to do for them.”

The Sylvan Learning corporate team also works closely with franchisees as they open their centers and helps with training and marketing, among other things. Franchisees can also work with their brand-assigned Franchise Business Consultants and Local Marketing Support Specialists.

Additionally, the leadership team provides a highly personalized level of support by regularly checking in with franchisees and not relying solely on numbers.

“There’s no way you can get a sense of how a franchisee is doing just by looking at numbers,” Poteet said. “That’s why we pick up the phone and call our franchisees and ask ‘How’s it going?’ To us, franchisees are not just data on a spreadsheet. We look at benchmarks but we are also always up-to-date on what’s happening and provide resources to help franchisees with whatever they need.”

With its proven business model, supportive leadership team, available territories and more, it’s no wonder Sylvan Learning had a stellar 2019 and remains a brand to watch in 2020.

Below is a list of openings since the start of 2019 with the number of open territories the brand would like to develop in the next five years:


2019 Openings: Sam Jan in Birmingham, Terry and Carol Wettig in Prattville

Open territories to develop: 10


2019 Openings: Matt Shea in San Luis Obispo, Amber Castillo in Manhattan Beach

2020 Opening: Todd Crabtree in Pasadena

Open territories to develop: 32


2019 Opening: Marshall and Jeffrey Greenhut in Avon

Open territories to develop: 8


2019 Opening: Meenakshi Tayal in Middletown

Open territories to develop: 4


2019 Openings: Gloria Swardenski in Fort Walton, William DaSilva in Hunters Creek and Ana and Jason McCoskey in Oviedo

Open territories to develop: 25


2019 Opening: An Hong Tran in Alpharetta

Open territories to develop: 16

New Jersey

2019 Openings: Eday Jagadeesan and Buni Jayachandran in Hillsdale

Open territories to develop: 18

New York

2019 Opening: Natalie and Gianni DiPaulo in Pleasantville

Open territories to develop: 22


2019 Opening: Nagesh and Pradeepa Nidamanuru in Allentown

Open territories to develop: 14


2019 Openings: Nizar Tayem in Rowlett, Mark and Jennifer Dempsey in Richardson and Roy Vargis Pulikotil in Murphy

Open territories to develop: 25


2019 Opening: Ashish Gandhi in Fairfax

Open territories to develop: 20


2019 Opening: Jason Jensen and Jamie Sanders in Gillette

Open territories to develop: 3

The startup costs for a Sylvan Learning franchise range from $68,680 to $159,085. The franchise fee is $24,000. To learn more about franchising with Sylvan Learning, visit






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