Molly Meulenbroek (Co-owner/Manager) | Rochester, New Hampshire | Retail
Molly Meulenbroek, Studley’s Flower Garden | Rochester, New Hampshire
Studley’s has been co-owned and managed by Molly Meulenbroek since 2008. She bought it with two coowners from the company’s founders just as the Great Recession hit. That experience taught Molly plenty of lessons about resilience and perseverance that prepared her to better confront the pandemic with the right digital tools. Studley’s began its digital journey with its first website in 2003. Most of the company’s business is floral-related but it also has capabilities in other spaces, such as gardening and landscaping.
Six years ago, the company transitioned to a fully customizable site that allowed it to capture and sell across all sides of the business.
They experienced effects across the board: 43% reduced hours of operation, 30% saw reduced customer demand, 28% had disrupted supply chains, and 20% laid off employees.
By the start of 2020, website product listings were supplemented with information provided by specialized digital tools, like an online plant database that provides customers with in-depth background research and care tips. The website proved crucial when COVID-19 hit and Studley’s customers were quarantined at home. The company closed the store to foot traffic and, because of its existing e-commerce capabilities, was able to transition quickly to contactless pickup and delivery.
The company had already established a presence on sites like Instagram and Facebook, and these tools would be vital for staying connected with customers during the pandemic. Molly recalls, “We got on social media where our customers already knew to find us, and we were able to explain how we could continue to safely serve them.”
Most SMBs (53%) also plan to continue to use more digital technologies in their business, even after the pandemic.
Studley’s had engaged more directly in online marketing over the years too, advertising with both Google and Facebook. Molly is particularly thankful for the ability to bid on her company’s name with Google, which has allowed her to compete more effectively with larger national brands. The digital shift for this nearly 100-yearold company was mirrored in its operations as well. Molly and her team used Google technology to promote collaboration and streamline operations even at times when face-to-face communication wasn’t possible. The company maintained a series of procedures for staff in a Google Drive, along with sales sheets and other important team documents. When the pandemic struck, the Studley’s team was able to get a sense of how to shift based on data from Google Analytics and Facebook Insights. After they decided to go the no-contact route, Molly says the move was “surprisingly easy.”
While initially a scary time for Molly and her team, over time the pandemic began to affect this digitally driven business less and less as it leaned more into its digital capabilities. The company really hit its stride by the time the traditional high-sales season for florists came around. “We had one of our busiest Easters in years, saleswise,” Molly recalls, “and then came Mother’s Day, and our online sales were nearly unprecedented.” In fact, digital sales had tripled over the previous year.
Moving forward, the future looks bright for Studley’s. Molly and her team are now looking into increasing Studley’s online offerings more broadly across the country. The team is also preparing to try out new digital marketing strategies, using lessons learned over the past few months. As for Molly herself, having now faced both a global financial crisis and a pandemic, she feels more prepared than ever for the next big challenge.
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