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There’s No Place Like Home Sums Up Home Instead Senior Care Philosophy


 

 

From oh-so-humble beginnings Home Instead Senior Care has become a huge business that founders Paul and Lori Hogan have built from a single good idea based on some core principals that come directly from their lives, not from a manual or focus group.  This short story provides a glimmer of what makes them and their business tick.  The piece originally appeared in B2B Magazine.

There’s No Place Like Home Sums of Home Instead Senior Care Philosophy

©by Leo Adam Biga

Originally published in B2B Magazine

 

Home Instead Senior Care co-founders Paul and Lori Hogan take a similar strategic approach running their business as they do their marriage and family. The principles that guide their professional life are congruent with their personal life because they authentically express the couple’s beliefs.

That consistent message helps explain how in 15 years they’ve grown from a single desk in Paul’s mother’s home to a new Omaha corporate headquarters with 100-plus employees. What began as a handful of caregivers and clients now encompasses 872 independently owned and operated franchises employing some 60,000 caregivers serving more than one million clients worldwide.

 

The Hogans

 

Along the way the Hogans helped create a new industry for delivering nonmedical home care and companionship and are recognized leaders in the field.

“One of the things we did before we started the business was we established our set of corporate objectives, which are to honor God in all we do, treat each other with dignity and respect, encourage growth in ourselves and others, and build value in service to others,” said Paul. “As I look back, that is the single most important thing we ever did in the business. The second most important thing is we shared those with absolutely everybody that’s ever joined the company — as a franchise owner, caregiver, staff person. Therefore, before deciding whether to join us or not. you know where we’re coming from. Those two things done in the very beginning have played out now to be invaluable.

“I suspect it’s turned some people off, but those that identify with those values join us and thrive. They can be themselves and can achieve excellence, and that’s really the foundation for the chemistry that exists in the corporation.”

At the heart of it all is the story of Paul’s late maternal grandmother, Eleanor Manhart, whom family members cared for at the home of her daughter, Catherine Hogan (Paul’s mother). Grandma Manhart didn’t want to go to a nursing home. Paul and Lori were among her caregivers. The example of how Grandma thrived with personal, attentive, in-home care gave Paul the idea for the business. “Slowly her strength came back and she regained the will to live,” he said. “Without that experience there wouldn’t even be a business. It was the impetus to give me and Lori the confidence this is needed and it works.”

He learned “the fear of being isolated, lonely and institutionalized” is universal, as is “the basic human need” or desire to stay at home. “That was the inspiration — the promise of home,” said Paul. He also learned “It’s not so much how well the towels get folded,” it’s how well people connect. The quality of that connection has become the paradigm for Home Instead’s model.

“It’s one relationship at a time,” he said, “and the larger we get the more important it is we continue to find ways to focus on our core strengths, and our core strength is our relationships with people. We’ve actually measured it. The most important aspect of our service between our caregiver and our client is the relationship.”

That relationship model is expressed in a new Home Instead tag line: To us, it’s personal. “We all realize that is the key to success yesterday, today and the future,” said Paul. “So that’s a way we continue to build upon our core strength. It’s aspirational. Every time that phone rings, that’s how we deal with people.”

“As we get bigger we keep going back to those core values and with every decision  ask, Does it line up with our core values? If it doesn’t, it’s best we don’t do it,” said Lori, “and I think that’s been a really good guide for us to measure against.”

Home Instead is highly selective in awarding franchises. It has to be the right fit. A proprietary evaluation system is used to determine if candidates possess the right mix of five key talents deemed necessary for success. Paul meets every prospect.

 

“Caring and competitiveness are two of the five I’ll talk about,” said Paul. “If competitiveness is really high and caring’s really low that’s a bad formula, or if caring’s really high and competitiveness is low you’re not going to be aggressive enough to do what it takes to make it. We’ve turned down 25 to 35 (applicants) a year for the last seven or eight years, where the chemistry was just not right. If we were out just to sell franchises and put more money in the bank we wouldn’t care about that, but that’s obviously not a good approach because the more that don’t make become a bad reflection on the brand.

“I think another part of the formula is we’re not a public company, we’re privately held. Therefore we can make those decisions, we’re not pressured by quarterly earnings statements that compel you to sell just to make the numbers. Not having that pressure continues to be to our advantage.”

Communication is essential. Paul and his senior team leaders maintain contact with franchise owners. “We’re always getting feedback from our franchise owners before we go into making our next year’s plan. Therefore we’ve always been out in front of things — issues and challenges and opportunities as opposed to being in crisis mode. It’s helped us as a couple to continue to enjoy the business, build the business, feel like we’re in control of the business…”

Home Instead was not the first nonmedical home care provider, but it introduced focus and professionalism. Paul first learned the corporate world working at Merry Maids, an Omaha-based company that found franchise success. Founder Dallen Peterson became a mentor. “I saw how he took a very simple service concept — home cleaning — and made it a professional service by developing a system that ensured quality work,” said Paul. “So I took that experience into this and I was the first one to really do that in the industry. Secondly we focused on doing one thing and just doing it really well. Before we came along there were other home health companies doing both medical and nonmedical, and there still are today.”

Building a niche, Lori said, has proved smart, as Home Instead’s positioned itself as THE expert in the private duty home care field.

“We have the goal by 2025 to be among the world’s most admired companies by actively changing the face of aging,” said Paul. “Today, the face is fear. We want to replace that with hope. We want to replace loneliness with companionship. The old face is institution — we want to change that to home. That’s why we’re writing a book called Stages of Senior Care, Your Step by Step Guide to Making the Best Decisions (McGraw Hill).”

The book is slated for a fall release.

Home Instead does public awareness campaigns via print, video, online guides that help adult children and older parents navigate aging issues early on. There are tips on how to start the conversation about Mom and Dad’s living arrangements, bringing home care into the picture, et cetera.

Opening this fall will be the Home instead Center for Successful Aging, a partnership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The mid-town drive-up facility will offer health and wellness services and clinicians and will conduct research. Said Paul, “We sponsored that center because we want to be a part of the solution. Maybe Home Instead can be a part of discovering some breakthroughs about Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s and so on. We’re going to avail to UNMC the thousands of clients we have to help with clinical trials.”

The Hogans view their work as a calling. “We see it as our purpose and we see it as our mission,” Paul said. “It makes us feel like we’re doing something relevant and we realize how that’s not easy to come by. We recognize how special that is.”

“We feel blessed,” said Lori.

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