When Paul Hogan, ’85, started the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Franchise Club, it became the genesis for his entrepreneurial endeavors. His passion for franchising led him to impact the lives of others worldwide by founding Home Instead, a business modeled after family experiences caring for his grandmother.
As a finance major at the College of Business, Hogan envisioned owning his own business. With few tangible resources though, he began to create his own path to success.
“I had no money,” Hogan said. “I came from a family of six kids, divorced parents and government cheese. My mom was scraping by working an $8-an-hour job to support six kids.”
The Nebraska Franchise Club provided Hogan with information about how to become his own boss.
“One of the first things I learned about franchising was if you own a franchise there’s a 95% chance of success, but I also knew that less than 5% of independent businesses make it. I really paid attention to franchising and wanted to be a part of the Franchise Club. There was also a wildly popular franchise course at the university taught by Dr. Robert Justis, who wrote the book ‘Franchising’,” said Hogan.
Hogan found his first hands-on opportunity to work at a franchise through an internship at Merry Maids. Originating in Omaha, Merry Maids provided Hogan with a model for success in the franchise industry.
“After graduation, I got hired by the founder of Merry Maids, Dallen Peterson, and was thrown into a whirlwind of growth,” he said. “My job was to report on all the different departments to the executive team so they could make data driven decisions versus seat-of-the-pants decisions. It was incredible. I was pounding a calculator while the white tape rolled out on the floor. I learned every aspect of what the owners were buying and why they were buying it. I had the data and would do those reports.”
Hogan worked at Merry Maids for 10 years. He gained insight and strengthened his skills he later used when launching his own franchise.
“When you buy a franchise, it’s like having the best of both worlds. You get to be on your own boss, but not by yourself. You get to have your own business, make your own decisions and follow a formula that’s been proven over and over again. You also have a peer group of others who are doing the same thing you are and learning becomes exponential,” said Hogan.
Through Peterson, Hogan learned to look at megatrends, a term popular in the 1970s to evaluate societal needs on a large scale. Merry Maids served families needing assistance with cleaning their homes due to the growing number of working mothers.
When Hogan started Home Instead, it came from another burgeoning societal need to care for aging adults at home. At age 88, his own grandmother lived in a one-bedroom apartment and became too weak to get out of her chair by herself.
“We had a big family meeting and agreed on two things. Number one was no nursing home. Number two was to move grandma to my mother’s house,” Hogan said. “What looked like a hospice situation turned into 11 years of care, and my grandmother regained her will to live. My mom’s house was like Grand Central Station with people coming in and out all the time, and my grandmother lived a whole decade of relative independence.”
Hogan realized that the people around his grandmother making such a positive impact didn’t need to be doctors or nurses, and began to replicate the care his family provided for his grandmother by hiring caregivers in Omaha. He visited hospitals, talked to people and listened to what families needed to care for their parents and grandparents, particularly those from smaller families.
“We modeled Home Instead after what my family did for my grandmother. Aging at home is what seniors want, and we sought to make that more possible,” he said.
Hogan and his wife, Lori, started Home Instead with $18,000. They also grew the business by adding franchisees in Lincoln, Daytona, Kansas City and Atlanta.
“We never took out a loan until we bought a building. We showed that a service business combined with franchising can be a low capital intensive business. Each time we added a franchise, they paid a franchise fee, which provided some money to work with,” said Hogan.
Home Instead benefited those receiving care as well as those involved with Home Instead as franchisees worldwide.
“It’s so exciting to be part of helping others achieve a level of success that far exceed their expectations. That’s what I have long considered the best thing about franchising,” he said.
This spring Hogan helped Lindsay Thomsen, assistant professor of practice in management and director of business development for the Center for Entrepreneurship, relaunch the Nebraska Franchise Club. With a goal of helping young entrepreneurs start something, grow something and learn about franchising, Thomsen also collaborated to offer students across the University of Nebraska, including the Omaha and Kearney campuses, gain insight about career paths in franchising.
“Franchising is often misunderstood, which prevents people from pursuing it,” Thomsen said. “Most students think of fast food, but our regional and national franchise speakers showcase the many industries involved in franchising and share their insight. Paul’s company became internationally recognized and represented in many countries, so I wanted him to share his experiences with students.”
Hogan spoke to the Nebraska Franchise Club in March about his experiences with Home Instead. He also emphasized the financial impact of franchising.
“It’s great economics,” he said. “Small to medium-size businesses provide most jobs. Scaling a small business with the franchise model is very efficient. The bottom line for Nebraska is the more successful small businesses you have, the more successful economy you have.”
Home Instead grew internationally as a franchise starting in Japan in 2000 and kept expanding. Today it has more than 1,200 franchises in 13 countries. According to Franchise Times, Home Instead grossed $2.1 billion in systemwide sales through 2020. In August, Honor Technology, a startup health care and technology provider, acquired Home Instead.
“It was a compelling opportunity to bring the world’s largest home care company together with the most advanced tech platform in the home care industry. It would have been selfish to stand between all of our stakeholders and this great technology capability,” said Hogan, who retained a seat on the board.
In addition to helping relaunch the Nebraska Franchise Club and a course dedicated to franchising, Hogan previously served as chair of the Nebraska Center for Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, a mentor to students and a judge for events like the university's 3-2-1 Quick Pitch and New Venture Competition, where students present their business ideas and plans for an opportunity to earn cash prizes.
“Paul continues to change lives through his concerns for the good of others,” said Kathy Farrell, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean and professor of finance. “He models success for our students by showing how taking a chance in college to initiate a venture like the Nebraska Franchise Club can cause a ripple effect for positive change around the globe. He is a great example of how you can do big things when you start at Nebraska.”