What Makes a Chiappetta? The Culture and Mission of Chiappetta Shoes.
One Hundred Years… this new year marks the 100th anniversary of my great grandfather Pasquale Chiappetta starting a footwear retail and repair business in the then bustling Simmons mattress city of Kenosha. This major milestone for our family has made me think long and hard about what the secret sauce has been for the economic longevity of Chiappetta Shoes. The combination of the insanely volatile year of 2020, having two boys at the ages of five (Freddy) and three (Bruno), and hitting this one-hundred-year milestone really made us sharpen our pencil on how to maintain our operation and stability for another century.
Much of this document has been collected over the entire lives of my brother Nick and myself. The core principles of being a Chiappetta comes from those little interactions you have with your family, friends, and customers that connect with you in a specific way just ads that little bit of character. These character elements are what make you tick and as a business we want to create and environment of personal growth for our employees and customers. Formalizing the Chiappetta core principles is our intention is to build a system of stability and growth for many generations to come.
Please enjoy, comment, share and continue to read for more context behind each principle.
Coming from an Italian-American immigrant founded company, this would come off as a focus on ethnicity but really it’s more about your mental drive and commitment, really putting in 100% commitment. Being “Roman” is about a system and a culture of commitment to excellence.
Being a Shoe Dog has a lot of meanings, many of which can be found in a group I founded for the footwear community aptly dubbed “Shoe Dogs United“. The hope with all of our employees of Chiappetta Shoes is to really build a community that loves everything about footwear; how a shoe fits, the leathers, the smells, the face a customer makes when you measure their feet for the first time in their lives… all of it and so much more. Being a shoe dog is a true religion.
Being in customer service my entire life, and solving problems a majority of the time, you really can boil one’s reactions down to Darwin’s “flight or fight response“. Throw on top of that being in small business, anyone successful can tell you they have failed at least twice as much as they have won. So to this point, I find it extremely important as an organization to be able to identify a problem and face it head on, rather than passing the problem down the chain. We face our problems and we fight.
Cliché? Nope. If you’re in retail, the only way to win in today’s climate is to solve a problem and make sure that any touchpoint you have with someone that even has the slightest potential to do business with always comes first. That’s the only way to win the trust of the consumers and beat the algo’s.
“I’ve got a guy for that”… At Chiappetta Shoes, we like to look at our sales process as a simple problem – solution based interaction. Having the ability to solve one’s problem, or at least steer them in the right direction, creates a bond and a level of trust because you are helping someone live a better life. To be a world class resource-ist, we have to always be networking and researching for the best practices.
It was 1990, kindergarten art class at St. Edward’s school in Racine. We had a clay project we were working on and I distinctly remember the teacher saying over and over again, “We don’t say can’t“. I have zero clue why that stuck with me for so long but I quickly started using that mantra after my boys started to talk. Implementing this as a company wide protocol enables us to focus on solutions and to create a winning environment.
Failing fast requires a few things before implementing into the system. First, you have to have a well defined gameplan and really have the whole organization know where you want to end up at. Second, commitment to the plan is crucial in being able to abandon time and money in an endeavor if it is a looser. Last, being able to abandon a project, identify what worked and what failed only helps the long term mission. I always say, nothing in life comes easy.
Mentioning love in a business culture post like this might come off as a little weird but I find it important to highlight the commitment in our mission. If we talk about commitment and identify the importance of our culture, unconditional love acts as the glue.
Whether it’s listening to a customer talk about a new product, talking about new services we could offer, or new marketing idea, everything we do should be focused on growing the Chiappetta Shoes business. Having an intense focus on growth helped us get through 2020 relatively unscathed and will be what helps us get another century under the belt.
Being an agent of change is the main means in which to achieve growth. Whether it’s an improvement on a current process, a totally new business venture, looking for change is an ingredient of innovation. The more innovation, all focused on our mission, the better.
In retail, everyday counts. It’s a game in perpetuity. Some people play for the long ball and some small ball. For any of us SMBs, the field is always changing which makes the game even more exciting. Managing your cadence, focusing on what you can control, getting your body right, and accepting responsibility in any situation is the means in which to maximize your efforts and give 100%.
Most definitely the best advice my pops, Fredo Chiappetta, gave me my whole life. Whether it’s a competitor, an angry customer, or a best friend you don’t agree with their politics, at the end of the day we’re all humans and we have to treat others the way we want to be treated. Finding the good in everyone will help you live life happier, healthier, and more competitively because hate blinds, and blind people typically have a hard time steering a ship.
Over the years we’ve had a number of different missions ranging from world domination to offering the absolute best customer service in the industry but I think we nailed it this time around. Chiappetta Shoes has large ambitions to scale our knowledge and expertise both in-store and nationally online in a number of different ways. As a part of this newly defined mission, we’re focusing on being first in line when a consumer is looking to solve a foot problem. The initiatives we are developing will roll out throughout the next few years and are very exciting from the perspective of finding ways to spread age old knowledge (a century to be exact) digitally, at scale, and online. We look forward to the challenge of being a true resource to all of our customers and love the opportunity to help someone in need.
Have a great 2021 and reach out anytime.
~ Tony chips Chiappetta