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    How Franchisees Win

    For 40 years, Sylvan Learning has set the pace for the supplemental and enrichment education industry through a breadth of tutoring and after-school programs, innovative technology and a results-driven approach to personalized learning.

    By nature, Sylvan Learning franchisees are exceptionally passionate individuals who are dedicated to improving students’ learning outcomes in their communities. We caught up with Sylvan Learning’s leadership team to find out what Sylvan owners can do to make their centers thrive—all with the end goal of helping more students achieve their full potential.

    “Sylvan franchisees focus on bringing quality academics to their communities. Throughout the process, they continue to get inspired by the mission-driven organization,” said Susan Valverde, Chief Franchise Operations Officer. “Owning a Sylvan center allows them to feel like they are adding true value to the world, not just contributing to some nameless corporation.”

    Valverde added that the most successful franchisees personally interact with every single parent in their territory. “They introduce themselves and ask about that family’s journey through the local school system,” she said. “They want to celebrate each of their Sylvan student’s wins—whether that’s learning to read, improving their SAT/ACT test score, or gaining admission to the college of their dreams.

    Amy Przywara, Chief Marketing Officer, echoed the importance of being active and engaged locally. This visibility elevates Sylvan as a touchstone in the community while marketing the local center’s services. “It’s about being authentic and building genuine relationships. Eventually, people will recognize the franchisee as the local point person for Sylvan. They’ll start calling the person who’s always wearing a Sylvan shirt for advice. Our franchisees truly become part of the community as a business owner.”

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    5 Reasons To Buy

    Scott Lindsey and Sylvan

    Sylvan Learning, the industry leader in supplementary and enrichment education, is turning 40 this year, and will be ringing in this milestone across its more than 750 points of presence. While the Sylvan of today looks a bit different than the Sylvan of four decades ago, the franchise’s heartfelt mission remains the same as always: to set students up for a lifetime of success by addressing their educational needs in a personalized and low student to teacher setting of 3:1.

    Every day, Sylvan Learning franchise owners play a key role in changing lives in their communities. Here are just a few of the reasons why they became franchisees.

    Strong Brand and Proven Model

    When parents are looking for a way to help their children improve their test scores, get into college or simply learn more than they are learning in school, they look for a respected brand they can trust. Sylvan’s proven track record, respected reputation and 40 years of experience are invaluable.

    “It’s fun to see parents who attended Sylvan as students bring in their own children. They remember their experiences, and we’re the first brand they think of,” said Scott Lindsey, a former corporate employee who helped Sylvan open centers in the Middle East and now owns several franchise territories in northern Virginia. “And our brand awareness is still growing. We’re getting more and more calls from parents wanting to enroll a second generation of students.”

    Sylvan is highly regarded among franchisees, too. Over the years, Sylvan has fine-tuned its business model and continued to evolve with the changing educational landscape, incorporating current technology such as iPads as well as student and parent web portals to track progress. Starting a new business can come with plenty of risk—but with Sylvan’s scalable franchise model and proven system, that risk is exceptionally mitigated.

    Ongoing Training and Support

    Another way that risk is mitigated is through Sylvan Learning’s comprehensive training and ongoing support resources for franchisees and staff. Much of the training is done digitally, which allows owners to learn at their own pace and revisit materials anytime.In addition to the formal training, the Sylvan corporate team holds monthly regional calls and assigns a corporate representative to each territory for day-to-day contact. The CEO and the executive team also hold town hall calls every quarter so owners can hear updates on what’s happening system-wide, celebrate company wins and hear about exciting new initiatives and events.

    “As a whole, even if you don’t have that prior Sylvan knowledge, you can still be successful, because there is so much support from all divisions,” said Lindsey.

    To further strengthen the corporate support system available to individual owners, the Sylvan Franchise Owners Association elects representatives to serve as the voice of franchisees. After all, Sylvan owners are considered deeply valued partners in moving the company forward.

    “We have a very collaborative relationship with franchisees that helps shape and drive the direction of our company,” said Susan Valverde, Chief Franchise Operations Officer. “They’re our thought partners, and they give a ton of input on how ongoing support and training should look—it’s not dictated from the top down. We are always enhancing our support resources, so we want to harness all the brainpower of stakeholders we can.”

    “The feedback I’ve received from franchises for the last decade and a half has been consistent,” continued Valverde. “Where we stand out most is that training and support.”

    Franchisee Reviews

    For the last 40 years, Sylvan Learning has positively contributed to communities all over the country and globe by setting young students up for a lifetime of success. With a wide range of tutoring and after-school programs, engaging technology and a honed approach to personalized learning, Sylvan continues to innovate and set the pace for supplemental education.

    When a new franchisee joins the Sylvan Learning team, they become part of a group of supportive, passionate individuals dedicated to helping students achieve their full potential. Sylvan offers a rewarding opportunity for the thousands of owners in its system—both financially and personally.

    Here are the five top reasons why franchisees love being part of the Sylvan Learning family.

    1. Sylvan’s programs really make a difference.

    Sylvan takes a results-based approach to learning. In fact, Sylvan students typically see two-to-three times more growth in math and reading compared to the national average.

    “After a student has been enrolled for a bit and their follow-up assessment reveals a 30, 40 or 50 percent jump, that makes us smile and motivates us to keep going,” said Ashish Gandhi, who co-owns a franchise in Reston, Virginia with his wife, Sapna Chordia. “When students are excelling and making such significant progress across the board, it brings satisfaction to the work we do and drives us to get there with all of our students.”

    Sylvan large breadth of programming provides resources for an extensive range of academic disciplines. The franchise is even the largest national branded provider of STEM service and college prep courses.

    “I enjoy teaching SAT and ACT prep because I love seeing our students improve and the excitement in their eyes when their scores increase. One of the best parts of my job is when scores come out and I get texts and calls from my students and their parents about how proud they are that they accomplished their goals,” said Kent Kolbow, a multi-unit Sylvan franchisee and former tutor in Indiana.

    2. That moment when a child’s face lights up after realizing they are making progress.

    While Sylvan has many markers of success for franchisees and their staff members, truly, nothing beats the experience of seeing a child believe in themselves.

    “We usually have students come in for the first time feeling defeated. Their confidence is low and their heads are lowered,” said Scott Lindsey, who now owns several franchise territories in northern Virginia after helping Sylvan open centers in the Middle East. “Once we start working with a student, and when they make a connection, it is priceless to see a child’s face light up when they discover that they now know something that they previously didn’t.”

    “A typical beginner who struggles with reading does not like to read out loud,” he added. “When a mom calls you to let you know their child read to them last night for the first time, you know you did something good!”

    3. Sylvan’s personalized approach shows proper care.

    What Makes Sylvan Unique

    When the first Sylvan Learning center opened in 1979, supplemental education was mostly left to parents and independent tutors. There weren’t many big businesses offering dedicated academic support for children. Sylvan quickly caught on with parents eager to find reliable help for their children, and in the four decades since the brand was founded, the demand for supplemental-education services has only increased. At the same time, the field of supplemental-education providers has become crowded, which led Sylvan to launch a variety of enrichment STEM programs. Although a number of education brands have set out on the path that Sylvan paved, none benefit from the 40 years of operational refinement and brand awareness that Sylvan enjoys, which is just one of the reasons it remains the leader in its segment.

    We talked to members of Sylvan’s corporate team as well as owners from markets across the country to learn why the brand continues to stand out from the crowd. Here are the top ten reasons to choose Sylvan.

    1. The demand for supplemental education is huge, and it’s growing.

    We’ve seen an enormous demand for our services. Students and families are striving for greatness, and competition in schools is only growing higher. Sylvan gives students an opportunity to expand on what’s taught in schools to get an edge, particularly where it comes to college admissions.

    — Ashish Gandhi, a Sylvan franchisee in Reston, Virginia

    Demand for supplemental education services is increasing. One big sign of that is the amount of new supplemental education brands that are cropping up. But none of them can provide students with the breadth of services and level of individual attention that Sylvan offers. Parents are looking for a customized approach, not a one-size-fits-all solution. Sylvan is the only brand that has the resources to meet that demand.

    — Susan Valverde, Chief Franchise Operations Officer at Sylvan

    2. No education experience required.

    The training and support programs Sylvan has offered us have been amazing. We have our own dedicated Franchise Business Consultant, who we work with on weekly calls to discuss the previous week’s sales, outline future goals and help with anything else we may need. We have a Marketing Consultant, who has been extremely helpful guiding our local marketing efforts. And there is also a support line that is available seven days a week and is a quick and easy resource for day-to-day questions. There’s no doubt in my mind that a lot of our success is due to the help we’ve received from Sylvan’s support team.

    — Ashish Gandhi

    Sylvan has offered us amazing support. The first thing that jumped out at us when we came on board was Sylvan’s structure of support. The corporate team has been a huge help in every part of the transition; answering questions, training us, walking us through the process. They are doing everything possible to set us up for success.

    — Josh Ploch, a new Sylvan multi-unit franchisee in Oklahoma

    3. An emotional return on your investment.

    Above all else, I love the lasting impact Sylvan leaves on its families. We’ve seen kids start out with us in elementary school, and as they near high school graduation, it’s very touching to see how Sylvan has led them to a longstanding path of academic success.

    — Kim Teixeira, a Sylvan multi-unit franchisee in Chesapeake, Virginia

    Sylvan struck me as a strong business opportunity, but also a chance for real personal fulfillment, and that’s exactly what I was looking for.

    — Mike Kelley, new Sylvan multi-unit franchisee in Minnesota

    Growth Markets

    This year, Sylvan Learning is celebrating two exciting milestones: The household name is ringing in its 40th year of student success, and as of February, the brand now has a presence in each of the 50 U.S. states. The leading supplemental learning franchise has certainly experienced tremendous growth over the years—and now has its sights on Atlanta, Georgia, as one of its next priority markets for growth.

    As a respected brand with unparalleled name recognition and reputation for proven results, many Sylvan Learning markets around the nation are fully sold out. Atlanta, however, is one of the few major U.S. cities that still has prime areas available. Sylvan Learning has identified the potential to add at least nine new centers in Atlanta, specifically in the metropolitan area and including Jonesboro, Smyrna, Country Lake, Lithonia, Buckhead, Roswell and Sandy Springs.

    “The first Sylvan Learning Center in Atlanta opened back in 1985, so the brand has a proven presence of success, and as the city continues to expand, we would like to ensure local students have access to the best personalized learning resources possible,” noted John McAuliffe, CEO.

    Sylvan Learning has 10 existing centers in Georgia, including a brand new location in Alpharetta slated to open in the early fall. Franchisee An Tran and her husband have turned their decade of experience working with youth in the church into their next business venture.

    “We want to continue to do what we love and get involved in our community to help other kids be successful in their education,” said Tran. “There’s definitely a need for tutoring services in this area, and there are not many competitors.”

    3 Questions with Leaders

    Sylvan Learning entered the supplemental education space over 40 years ago, and its trusted name and reputation for top-notch teachers, state-of-the-art technology and individualized programs for students has since continued to resonate with families across the country. Now, with a firm footprint of more than 710 points of presence, the brand is looking to its leadership team for future growth plans. The franchise aims to expand its growth with 45 new territories in 2022 amid an increasing demand for its academic support services after multiple challenging academic years for students.

    Sylvan’s CEO John McAuliffe attributed the brand’s four decades of success to its central mission of delivering the best educational resources to kids. McAuliffe stated that all leaders who join Sylvan’s team are driven to better the lives of students by continuing to advance the technology and hiring excellent teachers. By doing this, the brand is able to continue its reputation for individualized programs that truly develop a love of learning in students.

    Sylvan’s World-Class Customer Ranking Is a Reflection of Its Leadership Team

    “Because of the pandemic — which has exacerbated the need for supplemental-learning resources — we have seen families seek out Sylvan more than ever over the last two years,” stated McAuliffe. “COVID-19 has been an enormously challenging situation, but because of our leadership team’s ability to quickly pivot in just a few days and move all our resources online, we have been able to reach more kids than ever.”

    McAuliffe also noted that Sylvan has a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of over 75 — which, according to Inc. magazine, indicates a world-class ranking. He is thrilled by this score and mentioned that this industry recognition is a reminder for those in corporate that their day-to-day efforts are producing real-world results.

    “We might not necessarily be in the centers, directly seeing the impact the teachers are having  on the students, but with valuable customer feedback, such as an extremely high NPS score, we know our franchisees are living Sylvan’s mission and making a huge difference in the lives of students all over the nation,” McAuliffe said. “It’s an incredible feeling: Sylvan is a deeply meaningful brand to be a part of.”

    New Franchisee Profiles

    It’s not uncommon that a Sylvan Learning franchisee comes from a background in educationknows the power of education firsthand or has enrolled their own children in classes at Sylvan Learning in the past. Amanda Cockrum of Katy, Texas brings all of these perspectives and experiences to the brand.

    As a mother to three boys, 14-year-old twins Wyatt and Weston and 11-year-old Cash, Cockrum understands firsthand how valuable a good education can be when it comes to giving your kids a headstart in life. “My twins have been in classes with Sylvan Learning since kindergarten,” said Cockrum. “The boys’ teacher said they were facing some challenges in reading and needed a little extra attention. It was a huge game-changer for my kids. They loved how truly caring the teachers were and that it wasn’t just about pushing the curriculum.”

    Originally from Arkansas, Cockrum, her husband, Chancy, and their three sons relocated to Texas in June 2016 when Chancy accepted a job in the Lone Star State. The twins, who attended Sylvan Learning in Arkansas, continued to attend tutoring sessions in Texas so they wouldn’t miss a beat academically. After they arrived in Texas, Cockrum earned her Texas Alternative Teaching Licensing and became a schoolteacher. She spent about two and a half years working in Texas public schools before she decided it was time for a change.

    Cockrum applied to and was accepted into law school, but she would have had to relocate her family to Oklahoma City. She ultimately decided to pursue an opportunity that would keep her family grounded in the community where her children had established friendships for four years, so she looked into franchising with Sylvan Learning.

    “As someone who has been a teacher myself, I understand firsthand now that teachers don’t always have the time to go back and fill in the gaps when students need individualized attention,” said Cockrum. “The progress I had seen in my own children was more than enough to convince me that this was a great opportunity to pursue. My boys love to read now, are enrolled in AP classes and actually really enjoy school. If anything, I wish I could have sent them even sooner.”

    Cockrum’s location will be opening in Fulshear, Texas, one of the fastest-growing communities in the area. “Both my husband and I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so we understood from a young age what it took to be self-driven, motivated and successful,” said Cockrum. “I’ve never purchased a franchise before myself, but I think Sylvan Learning being in business for 40 years is a huge indicator of the brand’s longevity and success.”

    As someone who has been on both sides of the equation, Cockrum knows how it feels to be a parent who has a child who is struggling, and she hopes to bring some peace of mind to the parents of Fulshear. “There is no greater investment that you can make than in your child’s education,” said Cockrum. “Investing when they are young prepares them for so much more success down the road, and I feel like bringing that to Fulshear as a friend and fellow parent will be really enriching for the community. I know it’s not just my children. There’s so much pressure to perform in school, and we want to set up an entire generation to do the best that they can.”


    When signing on as a franchise owner with a brand—even a brand as established as 40-year-old Sylvan Learning—it’s important to do due diligence and ask questions. Luckily for prospective Sylvan Learning franchisees, CEO John McAuliffe, SVP of Finance Jacob Jones and Chief Franchise Operations Officer Susan Valverde are all well-versed in the valuable information franchise candidates seek—and more than ready to share their insights. Two respective owners of two of Sylvan’s top-performing centers—Anthony DiGiacomo of Sylvan Learning Center in Fair Lawn, New Jersey and Kim Teixeira of Sylvan Learning in Chesapeake, Virginia—also spoke to their success as Sylvan franchisees.

    Below are 10 of the most frequently asked questions by prospective Sylvan Learning franchisees.

    1. What is the investment level associated with opening a Sylvan Learning Center?

    Startup costs for a Sylvan Learning franchise range from $70,270 – $163,625, including a franchise fee of $24,000.

    2. How was the brand built and what is Sylvan’s track record of success?

    Sylvan Learning began in Portland, Oregon as Sylvan Learning Corporation in 1979. The brand’s original offering focused on reading, writing and math, but has since expanded to include SAT/ACT test prep and high-value STEM courses—which, taken together, drive real results.

    “Over the past five or six years, we’ve worked incredibly hard to expand our product base and increase the use of technology in our learning programs. Take our variety of classes—we cover the basics like math, reading, study skills and test prep in addition to diving into the STEM arena,” said McAuliffe. “Sylvan is also the only brand that uses technology to deliver the vast majority of our core programs. We’re continuing to expand more and more into online content, ultimately making our program more convenient for students, teachers and families.”