The way Sylvan Learning franchisee Catherine Oberholzer sees it, she’s not just helping children build their confidence. She’s also making lives easier for parents and families.
That’s why she’s going to open her second Sylvan Learning center. Her current one, which opened on January 8, 2018, is located in the northwestern part of Tucson, Arizona, and her new center will be located on the east side of the city. There is no scheduled opening date just yet, but Oberholzer is aiming for July of 2019.
“Tucson is a pretty sprawling city,” Oberholzer said. “It’s 35 minutes from the other side of town and for a lot of the children we have assessed it’s too hard to get them here. It’s another hour and a half out of their day. I just want to make it as easy and stress-free as possible for parents. That’s my motivation.”
She noted that children are busy these days with multiple activities, and opening a second location means that more parents and their children can enjoy Sylvan’s services without having to spend long hours in the car.
“My job is to make parents’ lives less stressful, not more stressful,” she said. “Less time in the car, less time combating the kid over doing homework and just giving them a great and fun educational environment because education and learning should be super fun.”
Oberholzer has a long history with the brand, having started out as a customer seeking extra help for her daughter in 2010. Now a junior in high school, her daughter was diagnosed with “extreme dyslexia” when she was younger, Oberholzer said, which prompted the initial need for some extra help outside of school.
“I went to the Sylvan Learning center in another town in another state and the director was absolutely amazing,” Oberholzer said. “It helped my daughter.”
Oberholzer’s daughter would not be able to stay at that Sylvan for long, but Oberholzer still received some much-needed guidance, resulting in a passion for the brand that stuck with her throughout the years. She jumped at the opportunity to buy a franchise. Her Tucson location is brand new, but there previously was a location in the area.
“A former area center director was so helpful in directing me and helping me,” she said. “I could see that her students were happy, and when I had the opportunity to buy the Sylvan franchise in Tucson, I kind of just pulled all of my resources and did it. I love kids, I want them to be successful and I wanted to run my own business, and it all came together.”
Ask Oberholzer what she loves about being a Sylvan franchisee, and she’ll go on and on about her passion for working with children and helping them meet their educational goals and gain confidence. She also gushes about her team, and said her tutors “really identify with kids” and are “a perfect mix” of current and retired public school teachers.
“The kids are wonderful,” she said. “It’s fun to see them succeed and it’s energizing to hear when their grades are getting better, when they’re feeling more confident. A lot of them, when they first came to Sylvan, they were not raising their hand in class…and now they are!”
Oberholzer is passionate about putting children first, even if that means turning away potential business.
“We’ve had a lot of kids graduate because they’ve done so well and that makes me really happy,” Oberholzer said. “We’ve also been able to direct parents to outside resources because while Sylvan is wonderful, we’re not capable of servicing all students. This is super important because we need to make sure kids are put on the right track at an early age.”
In addition to planning for her second location, Oberholzer is currently working on her existing center’s community outreach. This includes starting up a grassroots campaign to partner with schools and contribute to their parent-teacher organizations.
“We’re just trying to get our brand and our name out there,” she said. “My whole philosophy is that we help the schools because we both help elevate the struggling children and we also help the higher achievers achieve more.”
Oberholzer advises prospective Sylvan franchisees to have a game plan when it comes to marketing their location, and to also make sure to tap into the corporate team’s playbooks and resources.
“The most important thing is to build the brand so people want to come to you and you have referrals and people are happy with your services.”
She praised the Sylvan team for providing an excellent service and support team.
“I love my franchise business consultant and the product that Sylvan offers is truly the best in the industry,” she said. “It’s so respectable and I trust it and I know we’re doing the right thing. I feel so strongly about the product we offer that it makes me feel confident in helping these students. They’re always evolving and trying to do better and I appreciate it.”
The startup costs for a Sylvan Learning center range from $70,980 to $159,885. The franchise fee is $24,000. To learn more about franchising with Sylvan, visit https://sylvanfranchise.com/.