It all started when Barry Miller fell in love with an educator. His wife, a special education teacher, was one of his biggest motivators when he began considering buying a Sylvan Learning franchise.
“Coming from a family of educators, and my wife teaching kids with special needs, you get satisfaction from getting to know the families and students,” Miller said. “You feel like you’re making a difference in the lives of your students and in the local community.”
Miller opened his first Sylvan Learning center in Niles, Ohio in 1986, and soon realized it was much more than just a job.
“The best part of being a Sylvan Learning franchisee is when a family comes up to you at the grocery store and says, ‘I remember you. Thank you for helping my son,’” Miller said. “Those are the moments that motivate me to continue growing the Sylvan Learning brand and helping out families in my local community.”
Ten years later, Miller decided to expand out of Ohio and into Pennsylvania. In 1996, he was one of the first franchisees to break into Pennsylvania. And now, 30 years since he opened the doors to his first center, Miller has helped more than 30,000 kids through his five centers. Even with a long-standing local presence, Barry says there is still a tremendous need for Sylvan Learning’s services in the area.
“The need for education here is huge. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have great potential for growth for the brand,” Miller said.
Sylvan Learning’s senior director of franchise development Georgia Chasen agrees, adding that the brand has plans to open 15 locations across the state, in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Altoona, State College and Scranton. The expansion would bring more than 150 jobs to the state.
“Franchisees like Barry prove how successful Sylvan can be, especially in an open market like in Pennsylvania. He has built brand awareness in the area and the concept is proven to work there,” Chasen said. “Sylvan is ahead of the curve when it comes to its STEM and test prep programs, and, with plenty of available territory across the state, we are primed for growth across Pennsylvania.”
With cutting-edge programs, low startup costs and an industry-leading fee structure, Sylvan Learning offers a compelling franchise opportunity. In 2016, Sylvan restructured its franchise license agreement to improve profitability for its franchisees and put a renewed focus behind the brand’s programs. But beyond the financials, the emotional piece is what attracts franchisees to join the system.
“For anybody that’s interested in getting involved, you need to look at the emotional rewards,” Miller said. “You’re doing something good. Knowing I’m helping young kids, that’s what has kept me going each day and growing my business.”