Dave Mattson, CEO of Sandler Training, got his Remodeling Show audience's attention by asking what it costs to train a new employee for a year. Answer: well over double their salary, with hard and soft costs such as training and ramping up customer contacts. Mattson believes there's a better way -- having an "onboarding" system.

"An owner's job is to make his or her work force self-sufficient," Mattson said. "If that's your goal, you'll want to do that as soon as possible." That's where an onboarding process comes in.

First, determine how long it takes new hires to become profitable; in Sandler's case it took seven months for its sales people. Sandler eventually got that down to three months. Once that was set, Mattson was able to start tracking. He suggested that audience members break down the work required for each position into weekly segments. Be clear about what you expect of employees week one, week two, etc. Ask yourself if you have the information needed to train new employees. Mattson exhibited a week-by-week playbook/binder for a sales new hire. In it were large index cards held in plastic pockets. On each one was what a new hire would need to know broken down by week.

Once you've got that in place you can test the employee; let him or her demonstrate they know the information. "It's a common mistake," Mattson said, "that once we have a process you assume people are following it." But if on week one the employee didn't meet requirements and then again on week two, "You know immediately that you have a problem." He pointed out that the problem might not lie with the employee and might be an issue with the job description itself, but often the new hire just isn't right for the job.

"Don't lose 'management courage,'" he said "Approach an employee up front if there's an issue." Sandler takes a 90-day temperature of its employees, "but we know we have to give the employees the right tools [in the first place] to do their job."

It will take time to develop a process, but it's worth the effort. You'll save in money and headaches if you can determine early on that an employee is not right for the job and/or the company.