By Robert Gagnier
Patch caught up with J.C. Penney’s Westfield Culver City Manager Matt Taylor to talk about all things Culver City J.C. Penney. Taylor was born and raised in McGee Arkansas on the Louisina Mississipi border, and has been with J.C. Penney for over 27 years. He has spent close to eight years at the Culver City store, first as assistant store manager and now as general manager.
Culver City Patch: When is the remodeling expected to be completed?
Matt Taylor: Well as of now, all the phases are still a work in progress, some moving along faster than others. But the end goal is that we are constantly looking to improve the overall appearance of the store and its environment. The remodeling phases are being engineered in such a way as to make the shopping experience that much better for our customers.
Patch: Who is the typical J.C. Penney customer?
Taylor: Every potential customer that exists in all walks of society. What we want to be able to do is to cater to the needs of our diverse clientele. When that customer comes into our store, we want to be able to say that we have her merchandise available. Because we know that when she walks [out happy], she’ll return, as will others through word of mouth.
Patch: And customer service is a part of that?
Taylor: I have always believed that customer service is our number one priority, and believe that you should always employ the golden rule when dealing with your customers: treat people the way that you yourself would wish to be treated, and although that statement goes back to antiquity, it’s still relevant. We’re not looking for any one-hit wonder types of situations. We sincerely wish to both establish and then build on a relationship with our customers. That means taking care of that man or woman when they enter our stores, as well as their kids and grandchildren.
Patch: You have received many accolades as evidenced by all the plaques hanging on the walls here for store manager of the month and outstanding sales. How do you feel for being recognized so often by your employer?
Taylor: The awards and accolades are great, and I’m truly appreciative. However, none of those would have been possible were it not for the fact that I am surrounded by a great team.
Patch: Where does this store rank next to some of the other stores in the nation?
Taylor: Well we still have close to 1100 plus stores in the nation, and this Culver City location consistently ranks in the top 15.
Patch: Where would you like to see this store in one year?
Taylor: I want to see this store become the absolute best in the nation.
Patch: What are some of the core traits that you look for in prospective employees?
Taylor: Well when it comes to customer service, I’d like to think that I’m the best one out there. That’s because it’s a concept that I truly believe in, regardless of what I may have been doing at the time, or who I happen to be speaking with. I am going to put that customer first. I want people who are going to have and share in that same mentality. [Employees] need to be able to drop what they are doing in a heartbeat to take care of [a] customer.
Patch: The word ‘vision’ is located in your office, atop a picture of the late Dr. Martin Luther King. How has this helped you?
Taylor: I am where I am today because of the many great people who walked in the “Penney Path” before me. I learned from them and they set great examples for me to follow. But it was my mother who shared the following with me at an early age that also made a great impression on me. She said, ‘Son, you have to believe that you can achieve.’ As a result, I always had a vision of being a great store manager one day.