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When Car Conversations Turn into Business Plans, How a Mother-Daughter Duo Are Helping their Community through Sylvan Learning

After learning the business as a tutor and center director, Morgan Flottmeier was inspired to open her own Sylvan with her mother in Albertville, Minnesota.

Though she started her journey with Sylvan Learning as a part-time tutor, Morgan Flottmeier quickly became a center director and grew heavily involved in the business. When she began leading two centers, she would call her mother, Suzanne Flottmeier, as she drove between the two.

After hearing Morgan’s passion for her work and discussing the situation with her husband, Suzanne saw an opportunity. She proposed franchising to Morgan, and the pair teamed up to open a Sylvan in their own community. Now, the two are excited to be “a family helping other families” in the Albertville, Minnesota area.

1851 Franchise: Frame your personal story for us. What did you do before franchising, and how did you decide franchising made sense for you?

Morgan: I was working at a Sylvan Learning Center in Delaware. I started as a part-time tutor, and then I was quickly promoted to the center director position for a new center that my franchisee was opening up. I was kind of doing dual duty as a center director for both locations for a little while. I just absolutely fell in love with working with the students and seeing them grow. Seeing how much progress they were making was really rewarding, and it was very fulfilling for me; I just absolutely loved it. On my commutes between centers, I would call mom and tell her about my day during my 20-minute drive. I would talk about what I thought we might be able to do better in the centers or things we should start instituting. After a while, she said, “Do you want to open our own? I think we should open our own.” At first I said, “Are you crazy? And then I thought, “Actually, yes, let’s do it!”

Suzanne: I was a stay-at-home mom since Morgan was very young — under two. As the children grew older, my husband said, “You have a lot of talents, would you like to do something outside of the home? Why don’t you open up your own business?” But even though they were older, the kids still needed an awful lot. We discussed various options, but none of the ideas we had come up with really appealed to me.

However, as Morgan talked about her work at Sylvan, it had such an appeal to me. It's like when you meet your husband or your significant other: How do you know? Well, you just know, and this felt like that to me. As a stay-at-home mom, my whole life was about helping kids, volunteering at school, and being around my kids and their friends. It seemed like a logical leap from what I had been doing as a mom to helping other kids at Sylvan. Importantly, this was something we could also do together.

So I broached the idea to my husband, and he was 100% on board. I looked into what a franchise opening would entail and made sure it was financially viable for us, and it was, so I went to Morgan with the idea.

1851: What was your perception of franchising prior to becoming a franchisee, and what do you want people to know about franchising now that you are in it?

Suzanne: I had a little familiarity with the idea of franchising. My husband is a financial analyst and CFA and has worked in investments his whole life. Due to our combined experience and business contacts, we were able to call on friends to help us navigate the franchise process. My husband has a good friend who is a lawyer in contract law and who was able to help us negotiate our lease. We also have another friend who has been a part of a franchise and who was able to give us some advice regarding the model.

Morgan: My real introduction to franchising was when I was working at a Sylvan Learning Center. It seemed like my franchisee had a lot of help from Sylvan Corporate. We could very easily contact a local marketing team or a franchise business coach if we had questions. It didn’t feel like we were a ship sailing all by ourselves, and that was appealing to me.

Whatever you think you know, you always know less than you realize. There are always new things to learn. There's always a new task to accomplish. There's always more to do. Go into it pretty humbly because there is a steep learning curve.

1851: What made you pick this brand? What excites you most about this company?

Morgan: It's seeing those real-life success stories. I had a student who came in for SAT help, and I saw him go from a score in the 1000s to a score in the 1400s within a few months. It was just incredible. I had another student who was in third grade who was really struggling with reading. A couple of months after working with Sylvan, his mom came into the center and said, “I really want to thank you.” The student had written a letter to his grandparents and read it aloud to his family and they were so proud of his progress and accomplishments.

Suzanne: While I've never worked a day at Sylvan in my life, I am ready for what I believe will be a steep learning curve for me, indeed. But one of the things I've encountered is that opening a small business is hard, but opening up a Sylvan franchise is financially accessible for a broad range of people. 

When we're in meetings and have been going through training I’ve met a huge cross-section of people that do this. I think that has a great appeal. It's not such a high bar that it keeps everybody out. I really found that to be rewarding and exciting.

1851: What do you hope to achieve with your business? What are your plans for growth? 

Morgan: We're striving to help as many kids as possible. That's the number one goal. We also want to really excel at customer service, making sure that every parent and student who walks through the door is happy at the end of their experience with us.

Suzanne: I think our territory is a fast-growing area that doesn't have anything like Sylvan in it currently. Moreover, we're still experiencing the educational fallout of COVID, and I feel like there's a real need for us here. I have a strong desire to help children as well as be a part of our local community.

1851: What is the one thing about your story you want us to know?

Suzanne: We're a mom and a daughter. We bring to the table different areas of expertise and life experiences. We have both perspectives. She has the youth side, and I have a little more of the parental point of view. I've had kids go through tutoring; I can speak from the heart and understand that this is a financial investment in your children which is well worth it in the end.

Morgan: We like to think of ourselves as a family helping other families.

1851: What advice do you have for other people thinking about becoming a franchise owner?

Suzanne: Ask a lot of questions. As Morgan said, there is a huge, steep learning curve. Don't be afraid to ask questions that you need to. Reach out to other franchisees. I know that once we get going and have a little more experience, if anyone comes to our door or calls us on the phone, we’re going to take the time to help where we can because others have been so generous with their time for us. 

Morgan: Prep yourself for a lot of training and be open to learning a ton of new information and processes.

I definitely second the idea that you should reach out to other franchisees. Some of our most fruitful conversations have been with the people who have gone before us.

The initial investment required to begin the operation of a Sylvan Learning franchise is $85,525-$186,930. To find out more information on costs to buy this franchise, please visit https://1851franchise.com/sylvanlearning/info.

ABOUT SYLVAN LEARNING

With more than 40 years of experience and more than 710 points of presence, Sylvan Learning is the leading provider of personal learning for students in grades K-12. Sylvan is transforming how students learn, inspiring them to succeed in school and in life. Sylvan’s proven tutoring approach blends amazing teachers with SylvanSync™ technology on the iPad® for an engaging learning experience. Sylvan also leads the way with Sylvan EDGE — STEM and accelerated courses and Sylvan Prep — college and test prep courses. Sylvan supports families through every stage of the academic journey. Sylvan is a wholly owned subsidiary of Franchise Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: FRG). For more information, visit www.SylvanLearning.com.

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

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