Before founding the global home health care franchise Home Instead, Paul Hogan started a franchise club at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln after a franchising course inspired him. Lindsay Thomsen, assistant professor of practice in management and director of business development for the Center for Entrepreneurship, joined the College of Business this spring to relaunch the Nebraska Franchise Club and teach a fall franchising course with help from Hogan and other successful franchise owners.
“Franchising is often misunderstood, which prevents people from pursuing it,” Thomsen said. “Franchisors offer the chance to buy into a business under an already established business model and trademark. Most people think of fast food when they hear franchise, but there are many other industries like health and fitness, automotive, financial, insurance, computers and phone repair. Whatever career path you’re interested in, it’s represented in franchising.”
To ensure Husker students know why franchise owners experience higher rates of success than those with independent businesses, Thomsen enlisted several local and national franchise owners to share their experiences and insight with students at the Nebraska Franchise Club. Carey Gille, co-founder and president of Franchise Fastlane in Omaha, kicked off the club’s first meeting in February. In March, Thomsen hosted a franchisee panel with Charlie Colón, franchise owner of Chick-fil-A; John Hudnall, franchise owner and managing director of Home Instead; Ashley Kloxin, franchisee at Perspire Sauna Studio; and Laura Frantz, franchisee of House of Colour.
Upcoming Nebraska Franchise Club speakers will give presentations from 4 to 5 p.m. in Howard L. Hawks Hall, Room 202. The schedule is:
March 24: Paul Hogan, founder of Home Instead
April 14: David Owasi, previous franchisee of College Pro Painters and business coach with multiple franchise brands
April 21: Eduardo Heredia, president of Double O’s Coffee franchise
April 28: Blake Martin, franchisee with FranNet
“These successful franchise owners will showcase the many different industries involved in franchising,” Thomsen said. “For example, Paul Hogan’s company, Home Instead, became internationally recognized and represented in over a dozen countries and 1,100-plus franchisees.”
After working at Merry Maids, a home-cleaning service franchise, Hogan started Home Instead with his wife, Lori, in 2014.
“It’s great economics. Small to medium-size businesses provide most jobs. Scaling a small business with the franchise model is very efficient,” Hogan said. “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. According to Franchise Times, Home Instead grossed $2.1 billion in systemwide sales and 1,089 unities through 2020. In August, Honor Technology, a startup health care and technology provider, acquired Home Instead and Hogan retained a seat on the board.
“Being in a franchise system exposed me to a high-growth environment,” he said. “I was involved in almost every aspect of the business. I learned that with hard work and discipline, franchisees can create incredible earning power and build a valuable business asset. It’s so exciting to be a part of helping others achieve a level of success that far exceeds their expectations. That’s what I have long considered the best thing, by far, about franchising.”
Thomsen added that every franchise organization needs a home office with careers in areas such as human resources, information technology, marketing, advertising, public relations, philanthropy, international business and business operations and extends the Nebraska Franchise Club invite to anyone who wants to learn more about these opportunities and network with the speakers and students.
A former franchise owner herself, Thomsen purchased a struggling fitness franchise for less than $15,000 and tripled her business in two years. After selling it for a profit, she joined a franchisor as a business coach to guide others. She plans to help students explore every side of franchising from business concept to ownership in her course Special Topics: Franchising (MNGT 398).
“Since I liked the idea of owning a business but had little experience, I found franchise to be a great opportunity,” she said. “In Special Topics: Franchising (MNGT 398) students will learn about all the working parts of a franchise network and every department that contributes to a franchisee’s success. They will also gain the skills and knowledge needed to become a successful franchise owner or franchise an exciting business into a profitable enterprise.”
Thomsen also plans to share the real story behind McDonald’s, how Starbucks is different from Scooter’s Coffee and Dunkin’ Donuts, and how a woman began franchising in the 1880s to motivate her students. However, she knows the key to inspiring students doesn’t fall on her shoulders alone as she reached out to local and national franchise founders, CEOs and franchisees from over a dozen brands to help her in class this fall.
“Franchising is a hidden gem and an inclusive profession,” she said. “It’s filled with opportunities for all. At the university, I want to help students across campus learn more about their options in business. Whether you’re interested in franchising your concept someday, being a business owner, exploring career opportunities after graduating or just interested in learning about franchise, please join us at Nebraska Franchise Club this spring and take my course this fall to learn more.”
Students interested in Special Topics: Franchising (MNGT 398) should register in MyRED during priority registration in March.