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august 2012

A look at how the Michigan Dealer Director service helps dealerships

Michigan’s Dealer Direct service allows automobile dealerships to process titles and print tabs and registrations on-site. Since its launch in 2006, the program—a partnership between Michigan and Computerized Vehicle Registration (CVR)—has been growing steadily.

“Michigan was facing some budget pressures, and we were looking at downsizing on both the branch office side and the personnel side,” says Michael Wartella, director of the state’s Customer Services Administration. “We wanted to enhance service to our dealers and their customers, but we also wanted to move transactions out of the branch office so that we could maintain—
or improve—service levels.”

Before CVR, a dealership brought all sales paperwork to a Department of State branch office. Later, it would retrieve the plates and stickers and then notify the customer. “What CVR provides is the electronic linkage that allows the dealership to send information electronically to populate the appropriate fields, dramatically streamlining that process,” says Ken Mehall, CVR vice president of business development.

Additionally, the program benefits more than the state and participating dealerships. “It reduces the number of temporary tags and provides better potential security for our law enforcement community,” Mehall says. In Michigan, dealerships have a 15-day window to acquire tags for the customer, and in that time, the new vehicle has no connected database record. With Dealer Direct, Mehall says, “there’s no 15-day blind spot.”

In its first full year, Dealer Direct processed 130,000 transactions. In 2011, there were 450,000 transactions. Wartella expects to surpass 500,000 transactions in 2012—and about 40 percent of all transactions use CVR. “I can’t imagine turning around and having to put half a million transactions back into the offices,” he says. “It really has achieved the goal of us moving transactions out of branch offices and maintaining service levels.”