Two franchisees share their thoughts on the new initiative and the brand’s direction.
In the spring of 2016, Sylvan Learning remodeled its franchise license agreement and operating requirements to help simplify processes and improve profitability for franchisees. Sylvan’s CEO John McAuliffe led this new initiative, aiming to drive growth and continue building Sylvan EDGE courses focusing on coding, robotics, engineering and advanced math.
“Our goal is to help our trusted franchise partners be more profitable. Additionally, we are setting up operating requirements for franchisees to drive flexibility and allow franchisees to build better businesses within their local territories,” said McAuliffe. “The new model can help our current franchisees expand their existing businesses, and help us recruit the most passionate entrepreneurs to join our growing system.”
Sylvan Learning franchisee Kim Teixeira is a great example of an entrepreneur who has created a new opportunity for her business by adopting the updated license agreement and investing in the long-term potential of enrichment courses. Teixeira started her career with Sylvan right out of college in 1992, working at a corporate center in Dallas for seven years before starting a family. In 2011, she went back to work at a Sylvan center in Virginia before taking over ownership of the location just a couple of years later. Since then, she’s expanded the business in Suffolk and Chesapeake, with two centers and a satellite location.
“The new licensing agreement is very clean-cut and the processes for fees have really been simplified. Before, I was being charged for several transactions and it was more to balance. Now, I’m charged a certain percentage and I can easily calculate the total ahead of time before I get my bill,” said Teixeira.
When Sylvan EDGE was created two years back, Teixeira saw its potential and started promoting STEM-focused programs and camps to her local market. Today, she has more than 100 students who come to Sylvan for enrichment services. And that demand is only continuing to grow.
“Offering STEM programs in our communities has allowed me to bring in families and school communities that are looking for enrichment classes rather than remedial programs,” said Teixeira. “I now have families that are coming to me three years in a row for our STEM camps during the summer, and enroll in enrichment programs during the year.”
Another Sylvan Learning franchisee, Terry Hiduke, has held the Lee County territory, including Fort Myers, for nearly 30 years. During that time, the business established its roots in Fort Myers and has expanded outward with the addition of three new satellite centers in surrounding towns.
As his territory evolved, Hiduke decided to bring on Denise DeFrehn last January as a partner to oversee day-to-day operations and help grow the company’s customer base. DeFrehn started as a teacher with Sylvan Learning back in 2009, and worked her way up through multiple roles over the years. She now brings her broad knowledge of every aspect of the business to her new role, and has personally seen the benefits of the simplification of the licensing agreement.
"They took away some of the day-to-day fees, which helps franchisees in the long-run. Instead of all of the little fees to keep track of, they've combined it into one,” said DeFrehn.
As administrative tasks are streamlined, DeFrehn has more time to focus on both remedial and enrichment services, including their STEM-focused program, which she says has created a new opportunity. By keeping up with modern demands, the STEM-focused classes have allowed people to see Sylvan not just as a tutoring company, but as an all-around educational resource.
“We’re not just tutors. What makes Sylvan different is that we provide a customized program that no one else offers. You're getting a team who communicates with teachers and parents and is continuously revisiting the student’s program to make sure it’s what they need,” said DeFrehn.