STOCKTON — When the Sylvan Learning Center in Stockton closed its doors on Oct. 31, 2017, parents and students took notice; Cyrus and Enna Yanos took action.
“My wife and I decided to purchase the Sylvan Learning Center,” Cyrus said. “I like the way they teach.”
The couple officially took over the Stockton territory for SLC on Dec. 5, 2017, and opened the doors to their new facility — across the street from the former location — on Jan. 8.
Cyrus Yanos is a full-time nurse and Air Force veteran and Enna Yanos is an occupational therapist. Their desire to become SLC franchisees stemmed from their experiences at the learning center with their two children, a first grader and a fourth grader.
“We didn’t want it to completely shut down, and we’d have to travel probably 45 minutes away to go to another Sylvan,” Enna Yanos said.
Both parents said it was Sylvan’s approach to teaching that fueled their passion for continuing the business in Stockton, certified teachers instructing children on a 1:3 ratio, as opposed to students teaching students (a model they’d experienced elsewhere).
“Hopefully it’s going to give us profit, but you know first and foremost the reason why we do this is for our kids,” Cyrus Yanos said.
“Most of our franchisees are mission driven,” said Georgia Chasen, senior director and head of franchise development for SLC.
Because the former owner of the Stockton territory (who also owned a Sylvan location in Modesto, which he sold) closed its doors upon retiring instead of selling the business outright to the Yanoses, the couple had to jump through a few hoops to become the rightful owners. They were determined.
“[Opening in Stockton is] very convenient for us, and it’s benefitting the community, too,” Enna Yanos said. “The process is scary and exciting at the same time.”
Once the original SLC in Stockton closed, Cyrus and Enna Yanos applied for the territory. That means they purchased rights to a geographical area in which no one else can build a Sylvan Learning Center.
Many former students of Stockton’s SLC expressed interest in coming back when Cyrus and Enna Yanos reopened, and Chasen points out that the area’s demographic is favorable for new growth, as well.
To become franchisees, Cyrus and Enna Yanos had to meet several criteria. They had to demonstrate an ability to be involved in the business on a daily basis, show a passion for the company and its missions and be financially viable.
They used $100,000 of personal savings to start the business, including the purchase of furniture and equipment to prepare the space at 526 W. Benjamin Holt Dr., Ste. C., in Stockton.
Cyrus and Enna were able to take advantage of a veteran franchisee discount offered by Sylvan that waived the $24,000 fee charged to most franchisees.
As the business grows, Enna plans to cut back on her hours at work. Her role in the company falls in the human resources category, including hiring and payroll. Cyrus is involved in everyday operations. While he still works full-time as a nurse, the unconventional hours allow him to do both.
Sylvan’s corporate office provides marketing help and support for launching the business. Cyrus and/or Enna Yanos have and will continue to attend mandatory meetings to learn how to be successful SLC franchisees.
Enna Yanos said they have one-on-one contact with a representative from SLC corporate who helps them stay on track for opening, and provided much of the necessary marketing materials.
“We want to provide resources for our franchisees while giving them a framework to be successful,” Chasen explained.
The biggest change the couple plans to make to the Stockton Sylvan is expanding its robotics and coding offerings; classes that used to only be offered in the summer will now be a focus year-round.
The attributes that made Cyrus, Enna and their kids fall in love with Sylvan will remain — its approach to learning, qualified staff, teacher-parent communication and organization.
The territory Cyrus and Enna Yanos purchased covers Stockton to Galt, however, there are other underserved California territories available for franchising. SLC brought on a new franchise sales person specifically to meet the increased demand in California and they are offering another SLC to “gift” to a community hero. It’s the same approach Cyrus and Enna Yanos took, launching the business with their own capital but without the franchise fee.
The program is available to veterans and other community heroes, those who have the passion to open and run an SLC but may not have the wealth.
“One of the focuses for 2017 was to identify community heroes,” Chasen said. “People who have really put in effort toward their communities and the greater good.”