Recruiting, retention crucial to building successful business

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The staff at Lowcountry Therapy has grown from three full-time employees when it opened in 2010 to more than 50 this year.

Where there is a will, there is a way. Just ask Jessi Dolnik, speech language pathologist, founder and owner of Lowcountry Therapy.

"We have grown from three employees in 2010 to 54 in 2019," Dolnik said. "This growth has surpassed my wildest expectations. There was this glaring need for pediatric therapy in our community. The plan was to open a small, home-based therapy company, but the community had other plans!"

Lowcountry Therapy opened it doors in July 2010 with two full-time speech language pathologists, a full-time office manager, a part-time occupational therapist and a two-hour per week physical therapist. But, the company was able to market itself as the first private-practice, multi-discipline pediatric therapy provider in Beaufort County.

Year after year, the practice required more space and more clinics, along with more community programming. This also required additional skilled pediatric therapists.

The most difficult part of the growth is not referrals or new patients, Dolnik said. Current families, pediatricians and Baby Net Service coordinators generously help spread the word.

"The most difficult part of the growth we have experienced is the staffing of highly skilled therapists," Dolnik said. "Speech, occupational and physical therapists are a very specifically trained group. Throw a pediatrics subspecialty into it and you are looking for what professional recruiters call a 'unicorn' - a mystical creature that is impossible to find."

In the past year, the practice has spent a lot of focused effort on its recruiting and retention efforts.

"It has been quite an adventure going from pediatric speech language pathologist to owner of a business with over 50 employees," Dolnik said. "The company has had its share of growing pains but with our focus on employee satisfaction, our families and the community are reaping the rewards."

Dolnik is purposeful in offerings for her employees. There are regular team surveys with quick implementation of suggestions, fun and engaging team-building events, and quarterly continuing education opportunities. Other perks include a flexible PTO structure (including PTO incentive for community volunteerism) and a robust health and retirement benefit package, which has helped both recruit and keep the therapists and administrative team engaged.

"All of this attention to recruiting and retention efforts is really for the families we serve," Dolnik said. "Let's be honest, the Lowcountry location - beaches, rivers, outdoor lifestyle - doesn't hurt this effort either. It has been very exciting watching this small business grow. Time flies when you are having fun doing what you love to do (and working with some of the cutest patients around)!"

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