Sylvan Franchise Blog

The Sylvan Q&A Series: Alan Catlett, VP of Product Management

Posted by Laura Dunn on Aug 22, 2016

We’re keen to spotlight the experience and achievement of Sylvan’s staff, and we’re excited to share a new Q&A series on the franchise blog.

Each month we’ll be featuring a member of the Sylvan team. This month, Alan Catlett, VP of Product Management is in the hot seat!


As the VP of Product Management, what is the first thing you check on about the business when you wake up?

Every day the first thing I read is our Voice of the Customer report.  We ask every customer to provide feedback and they do. Every center receives their individual report and at the main office we receive all of the reviews for all centers. This provides me, and the rest of Sylvan with direct feedback from our customers as to what is working for them and what is not.  It also allows us to identify gaps in our services and products.


If I gave you $75k to start a business other than Sylvan, what would you start?

I would start a small farm, or a horse rescue- something very different to Sylvan!


When it’s all over, how do you want to be remembered?

When I was 10 I attended a Cub Scout camp.  On my camp certificate it says: “Alan: always cheerful, always hungry, always dirty, but keen to help where he can.”  Not sure about the dirty part but I’m happy with the rest!


What was your first job?

My first job was working in a supermarket and I was lucky enough to work with a great general manager who was a taskmaster but also encouraged all of the high-school student workers to work in as many different areas of the store as possible. From working the checkout and learning about customer service, to working the night shift and loading dock, the experience gave me an appreciation for all that it takes to keep a business running.


Who inspires you as a businessman?

Many people.  I’m always listening and reading about different people trying to find out what makes them tick or super successful.  If I can pull out and remember one or two nuggets then maybe I can improve.


What advice would you give to an individual who is considering becoming a franchise owner?

Being a Sylvan franchisee can be very rewarding both from a personal mission perspective as well as financially- but it is not for the faint of heart. Our most successful franchisees work hard and hustle every day.  They are in their centers and in their communities talking with parents, school administrators and teachers as well other local businesses and chambers of commerce expanding their networks.


How do you maintain a work life balance?

Technology is a great enabler and with increased mobile friendly applications we are able to stay connected wherever we happen to be.  I find this to be great but the key to maintaining the balance is being present. If I am a school event for my kids I can check email while waiting for the performance to begin but when it begins I am present!    


What’s your favorite part about working for Sylvan?

I work with a great team of people who are focused on creating a business that can be financially rewarding. It’s equally important that we make a positive impact in the lives of our students every day be at helping them to succeed in school to exploring a passion for STEM.


Topics: Sylvan Business Spotlight