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What a Franchisee Wants: Supplemental Education Provider’s Digital Touch Makes Operations Easier
Brand’s move from pen and paper to digital in 2011 pays off, both in front of customers and behind the scenes

Monica Nicolau, Sylvan Learning’s CTO, has been around the company long enough to see franchisees running their location using file folders and pen and paper to running their locations entirely through best-in-breed digital devices. Nicolau, who was promoted to the role in mid 2015 after broadening Sylvan’s technological capabilities as the leader of its software development team, knows that the company works hard to support its franchisees’ questions.

“We think of ourselves as technology partners to franchisees and support them throughout their entire lifecycle from deployment to day-to-day operations,” said Nicolau. “We analyze all the tickets we receive and meet on a weekly basis to analyze top ticket drivers and build them into our software development plan for the months and years ahead.”

The nation’s leading supplemental education resource and enrichment program provider to students of all ages and grade levels has a complex IT department staffed with over 40 employees. Comprised of in-house software developers and testers as well as infrastructure support and help desks, the company’s IT department handles more than 3,000 help desk tickets per month. Eighty percent of calls are rudimentary questions, but a ticket is opened, tracked and closed for historical and learning purposes.

“Our franchisees are able to use our technology to increase their business and also to access more consumers. Our digital format saves them administrative time, and are working to continually innovate” said CEO John McAuliffe.

Sylvan’s IT strategy is three-fold. First, to support the learning centers with a reliable and scalable platform for educational delivery through different device types, providers and users. Second, to provide a platform for better digital tools to support the sales and marketing efforts to enhance customers’ engagement. Third, to keep improving internally with new, efficient programs that further engage end users.

All members of Sylvan Learning’s IT team are trained to have a deep understanding of Sylvan’s franchisee support objectives. This understanding provides them with a unique insight into what franchisees want. Right now, for example, the current franchisee operations priority is advancing the enterprise administrative system. During the year ahead, Sylvan’s IT department is also working on implementing new operational system to roll out in 2018. The system enhances the CRM function, scheduling and calendaring functionality, and it allows the brand to more efficiently track sales by products.

“Franchisees have a broad, deep and talented team to support them for any issues they have running their business, whether the questions are operational or technical. We invest a lot to support franchisees; they are in good hands. The fact that we were able to transform the business from pen and paper to digital was huge, and we are still finding new ways to leverage technology to simplify operations for franchisees,”  said VP of Engineering and Support John Geiselman.

Sylvan Learning has been the industry leader for nearly 40 years with a proven business model that provides the most advanced and innovative approach to supplemental education in the industry. Sylvan assists students from ages 4.5 through college with a sizable program mix and modular curriculum that allows franchisees to deliver services through parent pay and institutional contract opportunities. This system delivers results where students realize two to three times more growth in math and reading scores than other students.

Sylvan Learning has over 750 locations in the world, with territories still available. Start-up costs range from $70,980 to $159,890. Its initial franchise fee is $24,000 with its all-in monthly fees consolidated into a 16 percent royalty fee on monthly gross revenue. For more information, click here.

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