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Senior Care Provides Opportunity

By Bruce Freeman

Paul Hogan, owner of Home Instead Inc., was destined to become the owner of a franchise business. He got involved in the franchise studies program at the University of Nebraska in the ‘80s and took an internship with a well-known home cleaning franchise. He stayed with them for ten years after graduation working in many different areas of franchising. During this time Hogan saved as much money as possible and dreamed the kind of franchise business he would create.

In 1989, an opportunity began to develop right before his eyes. Hogan’s 88 year old grandmother was getting progressively weaker and needed attention; someone to make meals, remind her to take medications, interact with her and keep her stimulated. After Hogan’s grandmother was moved to his mother’s home she grew stronger, and with the loving attention of her family, lived for another eleven years until finally passing away at 100. His grandmother had 12 children and 50 grandchildren, but Hogan and wife, Lori, wondered what people with small families do to help aging relatives. They decided it would make sense to put together a group of people who could function as family members to help keep elderly people in their own homes instead of nursing homes. Home Instead Senior Care was founded in 1994.

Hogan’s grandmother was more than just inspiration. At age 95, she sat with Hogan as he interviewed potential caregivers. Her input helped Hogan realize that the key to making Home Instead successful was the quality and caring of the people he was hiring to encourage, stimulate and assist clients. They found that mature people, in their 50’s and 60’s, were more likely to be understanding and able to anticipate client’s needs.

Relationships between the client and caregiver are the key ingredient to client satisfaction and Home Instead pays special attention to the match between client and caregiver. A recent survey of 20,000 Home Instead caregivers found that only 1% work primarily for the money. 99% stay with Home Instead because they feel appreciated for what they do and believe they are making a difference in people’s lives.

From the time of initial startup, the business grew steadily. Within six weeks, Hogan had his first client and within six months the business was beginning to support itself with about 12 clients. Typically, each client family pays about $1000 per month for 15 to 20 hours of weekly senior care.

The first franchisee actually came to Hogan just six months into the business. A relative had heard about the business and asked to buy a franchise for a town about 50 miles away from the Omaha, Nebraska headquarters. A few months later, two college roommates, and later, a brother-in-law asked to come aboard, and from there referrals to the franchise business blossomed. Currently, Home Instead supports over 550 franchises worldwide with system wide revenue of over $325 million annually. Home Instead Senior Care franchises currently care for over 27,000 people.

Professor Bruce’s Words of Wisdom

Paul Hogan tapped into an unrecognized need in our society. His education and experience helped him turn the kind of services Home Instead provides into a very successful business, but as you talk with him, you begin to realize that this business is not just about money, it’s about caring for people. In talking to entrepreneurs nationwide, it’s amazing how often I hear that it’s not the need to be rich that motivates, it’s feeling good about what you are doing.

I asked Hogan what he does when he feels his motivation begin to slip and he replied that he joined the Young Entrepreneurs Organization and attends a week long program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology called “Birthing a Giant” annually. Association with other entrepreneurs in his peer group reduces the isolation he sometimes feels and the leadership skills he learns at MIT help keep him motivated. Hogan realizes that caregivers also feel isolated, so one of Home Instead’s corporate objectives is to “encourage growth in self and others.” Caregivers attend regular meetings to discuss issues and challenges, and executives are required to attend at least one learning event per year. Home Instead also sponsors a National Caregiver of the Year chosen from seven regional finalists. The award winner speaks at their national convention.

Case History:  [EXTERNAL]

Entrepreneur’s Strategy:

Provide personalized care and support to the elderly.


Could This Work For Me?

As baby boomers begin to retire, the market for senior services will increase exponentially. Consider what you could offer to this growing market.






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