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After Strengthening Its Foundation in 2016, Sylvan Learning is Poised for Growth in Year Ahead
Enhancements to Sylvan’s franchise system include a restructured business model with a new franchise license agreement and operating requirements designed to increase flexibility and profitability for franchisees.

For Sylvan Learning, the nation’s leading supplemental education resource and enrichment program provider, 2016 has been a year of growth—both internally and externally.

Just ask John McAuliffe, Sylvan’s CEO. The list of the brand’s accolades during 2016 is expansive, and he believes it’s setting the Sylvan system up for even bigger things to come in 2017.

“We’re constantly working to evolve our model and approach to ensure we continue to lead the industry like we have for the last 37 years,” McAuliffe said. “We’ve proven that our model works every time one of our students improves their grades, aces a test or walks into the SAT feeling confident. Now, we’re building on that model to ensure that success continues for years to come.”

What McAuliffe is referring to is Sylvan’s new business model. This year, the brand announced that it would be changing its operating requirements at franchise locations across the country by rolling out a new license agreement and roadmap that focuses on five major goals: delivering the best educational programs, building the best business model, leading the market, enhancing the brand and growing the franchise system.

Enhancements to Sylvan’s franchise system include a restructured business model with a new franchise license agreement and operating requirements designed to increase flexibility and profitability for franchisees. Center operations will be optimized through state-of-the-art technology, and targeted marketing practices will be used to reach new families. The new franchise model won’t just be used by future franchisees—all existing franchisees were given the ability to migrate to the new license and operating model.

“From a business perspective, Sylvan recently introduced a new business model that allows our franchisees to become more profitable. Our new licensing agreement gives our local owners the ability to have a smaller bricks and mortar footprint but to also deliver services outside of their center in schools, libraries and community centers. That means that our franchisees are no longer limited to delivering services within our centers,” McAuliffe said. “The new model can help our current franchisees expand their existing business, while at the same time making our model even more attractive to prospective franchisees.”

Sylvan’s goal to partner with more franchisees and fuel the brand’s strategic development initiatives is already becoming a reality. In the third quarter of this year, the brand inked an agreement to open its doors in Vietnam by licensing its superior STEM product line to Vietnam Investments Group in partnership with the American Academy of Vietnam.

This year, Sylvan also expanded its STEM portfolio. In 2015, the company entered the STEM arena by launching its Sylvan EDGE program, with innovative courses in coding, robotics, engineering and advanced math. Looking to take its offerings even further, Sylvan added 19 additional courses in 2016, including an enhanced math program—Algebra Edge. That dedication to offering cutting-edge courses is paying off in a big way for the brand—Sylvan has seen more than 40,000 enrollments since the launch of EDGE. In particular, Math Edge enrollments are up 53 percent year-over-year and Math Edge revenue is up more than 100 percent year-over-year.

“The importance of STEM is something that can’t be overstated, and we’re perfectly positioned to be at the forefront of that increasingly popular segment of the education industry in the years to come,” McAuliffe said. “We’re expanding our robotics, coding and engineering programs at rapid rates, and we’re looking forward to bringing those courses to students in both domestic and international markets.”

Internally, Sylvan rolled a handful of changes to enhance its franchisee support. By doubling its number of franchise business consultants, hiring a vice president of operations, expanding local marketing capabilities and introducing a contact center, McAuliffe explained that Sylvan will be able to better ensure the success of each and every one of its franchisees.

“This was a year of strengthening our foundation and our core. Through all of these important changes, we’re confident that in 2017, we’ll see healthy same-center revenue growth. And because of the investment we made in better franchise development marketing, the introduction of our new license agreement, and more, we’re going to see the number of Sylvan locations in North America grow,” McAuliffe said. “We believe we’ve set ourselves up very well for a new year, and we’re very excited to see what big things are on the horizon in 2017.”   

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