Every now and then it helps to have a fresh set of eyes look at something, even in the business world.

Enter Wildacres Consulting in New Milford, owned by resident Katy Francis.

Ms. Francis opened Wildacres 10 years ago after a 26-year career in the corporate world, during which she worked as vice president of operations at manufacturing and publishing companies.

The New Milford resident describes herself as an "efficiency expert."

As such, she helps small businesses find solutions to company challenges, and streamline processes for the betterment of the company and its customers.

"My real love is to solve problems," Ms. Francis said during a recent interview.

When called upon, Ms. Francis will observe the ins and outs of a company to "figure out [how things flow] and make more efficient, effective and economical ways to get things done."

For example, she may look at how a company handles addresses and billing, customer service, warehouse inventory and fulfillment obligations. Or, she may be called in to address personnel issues.

The purpose: to find ways to improve productivity and work flow.

Many of Ms. Francis' clients are out-of-state small businesses, typically consisting of 25 to 50 employees, or even smaller.

In many cases, because the business is so small, the management is "so busy they don't have the time" to take an in-depth look at what's happening within the company and make their own improvements.

Instead, they call Ms. Francis.

In addition to looking at the structure and operation of a business, Ms. Francis will talk with employees and learn "who's good at what" and "use people to their strengths."

Sometimes after spending time with employees, Ms. Francis said she discovers employees may not be doing what they really want to do.

As such, Ms. Francis said she has been referred to as "the motivator" because of her ability to "motivate the employer and operational structure to come to a point where (an employee is) doing what (they) like best."

"If the employees are happy, customers are happy," she said.

Ms. Francis said many companies aren't used to having an outsider come in and look at the operation.

However, a fresh set of eyes can help people "think outside the box" and make changes that otherwise might be difficult to make, she said.

If Ms. Francis is unable to solve a problem or sees the solution would better be handled by someone else, she will provide a subcontractor.

Earlier this year, following the consolidation of several local courts, Ms. Francis provided consulting services for the Housatonic probate court in New Milford.

Judge Marty Landgrebe describes Ms. Francis as "very knowledgable about what needs to be done" and praised her for her knack to see how to "best utilize space and resources."

"Her ability to analyze a situation is impeccable," he said.

Owning her own business enables Ms. Francis the opportunity to work out of her home, giving her the freedom to continue to serve as a volunteer in the community.

Ms. Francis is vice president on the Rotary Club board and organizes the club's annual charity golf tournament.

She is also on the board of the Friends of Sullivan Farm, active in the Women's Guild at St. Francis Xavier Church and a member of the Republican Town Committee.

She was chairwoman of the town's Tricentennial Commission in 2007 and was previously involved with the Friends of New Milford Library.

A few years ago, Ms. Francis became a master gardener. Today she is also a gardener coach, someone who is available to guide and advise people who want to become better gardeners.

Ms. Francis helped start the garden at Hill and Plain School several years ago.

"Finding time to do something within your community -- no matter how small -- whether it's to cook one meal, give blood at one blood drive -- is such a rewarding thing," she explained about why she volunteers in the community.

"After 9/11, I realized I didn't want to be the generation to leave," she said, noting she returned to her hometown in 2000. "New Milford is such a wonderful place."

Ms. Francis has roots dating back to the early 1700s in New Milford. On her mother's side, she is a descendant of Zachariah Ferriss, the first non-native person to farm before the town was called New Milford.

On her father's side, she is the fourth generation to live on the family property on Candlewood Mountain, the site for which a family friend coined "Wildacres," the name of Ms. Francis' business.

For more information, contact Ms. Francis at Wildacres Consulting by phone at 860-354-7137 or email kafrancis@wildacres.net.