While owners of a franchise opportunity may look to new technology or marketing tools to grab more customers and boost their satisfaction rates, the real miracle solution in this department is much simpler - it's the employees.

A franchise's employees are the face of its operations - interacting with consumers on the very frontlines of an operation and touting its products. However, when it comes time to cut costs and save, it's often these individuals who are found to be expendable.

This can result in a drop in morale and, thus, employee performance, as franchisees look to trim wages, benefits and hours. But the website Franchising.com argues that this is a "short-term solution to a long-term problem," stemming from franchisees' decision to bring in an outside eye to appraise the situation.

"They hire high-priced consultants to come in," John Tschohl, founder and president of the Service Quality Institute, tells the source. "It's an expensive and lengthy process. And most often it focuses on looking for ideas that will save $100,000 to $1 million in one shot."

Instead, Tschohl attests that franchisees shouldn't look for a quick fix - they should be looking at how to improve efficiency in day-to-day operations in a way that does not penalize employees or sacrifice customer satisfaction. And to do this, they should not be seeking outside help.

"They should be asking their employees. … They already are knowledgeable about people, processes, products and services. They know what changes could be made to improve productivity and cut costs. They're just waiting to be asked for their ideas, and [Tschohl] says you should just ask them," Franchising.com writes.

While there are many ways a franchisee can mine the ideas of employees, Tschohl suggests launching an idea campaign, which asks employees to solicit ways to save money. An idea campaign should be no more than 30 days long and focus on small ways to save money, not measures to cut $10,000 in one fell swoop.

Furthermore, if an idea seems like it could work, implement it right away. When individuals see their suggestions actually being put into action, it will make them more likely to offer solutions in the future. If one suggestion proves to be particularly effective at saving a franchisee money, he or she should make sure to recognize the employee who suggested it. Public praise can serve as another incentive for participation, the source notes. 

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