June 17, 2009 // Franchising.com // Baltimore, MD -- Sylvan Learning, Inc., North America's most recognized provider of supplemental education, announced today it has converted 21 corporate centers to local franchises in more than 10 markets in the U.S. Earlier this year, Sylvan embarked on a national expansion plan that included converting 40 existing corporate-owned centers to franchises, while expanding in new and existing territories.
"We are thrilled to have made so much progress toward our goal of converting these corporate centers to locally owned and operated franchises. Under the leadership and dedication of these new franchisees, Sylvan will continue to satisfy a growing demand in these markets for high quality, individualized supplemental education," says Curt Hapward, Sylvan Learning's vice president of franchising. "We will continue to convert these corporate locations to local franchises because Sylvan has found that local center ownership, community involvement and partnerships with local school systems are integral components to each center's success."
Franchisees have signed agreements for centers in Baltimore, MD (Abingdon, Waldorf, Crofton, Silver Spring and Lanham); Evergreen Park, IL, Arlington, TX; Pittsburgh, PA (Monroeville and Robinson); Salt Lake City, UT; Marlton, NJ; Mountain View, CA; Atlanta, GA (Dunwoody, Austell, Snellville, Buford, Suwanee and West Cobb); and most recently in Las Vegas, NV (Green Valley and Buffalo); and Winter Park, FL.
With more than two million students served since 1979, the pioneer of personalized, supplemental education is still looking for qualified candidates interested in helping children build confidence and success in school and in life. Sylvan has identified additional existing corporate-owned centers that it would like to convert to franchised centers in Houston, Dallas, Milwaukee, Salt Lake City, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Sacramento, and Orlando. In these markets, interested franchisees have the potential to generate revenue from these existing centers ranging from $200,000 to nearly $1 million.
"Despite an economic environment where many businesses are struggling, the supplemental education market is proving resilient, and as a result, there is increased interest by entrepreneurs in aligning themselves with Sylvan," said Hapward. "Our franchisees come from differing backgrounds and have various reasons for joining this growing family at Sylvan, but all seem to share a passion for providing every student with the skills, habits and attitudes needed for lifelong success."
Natalie Sobkow was a teacher and a Sylvan Center Director prior to joining Sylvan as a franchisee in November 2008. Natalie and her fiancé, Fran Norris, decided to use the money they saved for a wedding to purchase the corporate center in Deptford, NJ, located just outside of Philadelphia. "As someone who has always worked for someone else, it's great to have your own business without the risk of starting it from scratch," said Sobkow. "Even if you are unsure if you can do it financially, you'd be surprised. It's an investment that you can be passionate about," she added.
Another new franchisee, Nicholas Skene, was an investment manager prior to joining Sylvan in Salt Lake City, UT. His passion for supplemental education came from his volunteer work with Rotary International's volunteer program at Olympus Junior High, where he helped students with their reading skills. In addition, his wife, Larisse, was a student at Sylvan as a child and went on to graduate at the top of her periodontal class.
"I have come from industries where most measures of success are monetary. It has been nothing but positive to participate in the Sylvan system that really helps boost families to where they want to be academically. It is so fulfilling to be able to measure success by the amount of good this business does for our students," said Skene.
When looking at franchises, purchasing an existing corporate center appealed to Chris Pittner, who now owns 10 centers in the greater areas of Houston and Waco, as well as Oklahoma City. "You are able to make a more informed decision because the data on the center is very detailed. Furthermore, a lot of systems are already in place and the transition process is a pretty effective one," said Pittner. "You also already have a good reputation in the community and in the schools, so your customer base is well established and there's not a ramp-up period like a new center opening," he added.
Sylvan currently operates nearly 1,100 centers worldwide including operating in 49 states in the U.S. and six provinces in Canada. Sylvan has served more than two million students since 1979. In 2008, Sylvan Learning was ranked number 57 in Franchise Times magazine's "Top 200 Systems" based on total number of units and has been ranked 24 times in Entrepreneur magazine's "Franchise 500 Ranking," the industry's premier franchise ranking. Most recently, Sylvan was named one of the "25 Top Franchises for Hispanic American ownership" by Poder Enterprise magazine, and was ranked in Bond's "Top 100 Franchises.".
Sylvan Learning is the leading provider of in-center, online and at home tutoring to students of all ages, grades and skill levels. With 30 years of experience and nearly 1,100 centers located throughout North America and abroad, Sylvan's proven process and personalized instructional methods have inspired more than two million students to discover the joy of learning. Sylvan's trained and certified instructors provide individual instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, study skills and test-prep for college entrance and state exams. Sylvan helps transform unique kids into uniquely inspired learners with the skills to do better in school and the confidence to do better in everything else.