Five Questions - and Answers - about Registration & Title

As one of the leading experts in the field of Registration and Title technology, Dealertrack is motivated by a single mission: to apply technology to reduce the hassle, delay and error associated with registering and titling a vehicle. It’s a goal that energizes the team every day, one that runs through everything they do. Given this, and the team's wealth of experience and insight, we asked them take a moment and talk about the automotive space, and to share some thoughts about the emerging trends and changes taking place in the world of registration and title:

Q: What do you see as the greatest risk to dealerships today?

A: The demands placed on dealerships by car buyers that are more expectant, and maybe a little more impatient, than in years past. Younger buyers are accustomed to a low-key purchase process, one which culminates in near-instant gratification. Dealers must adapt to these changing shopping and purchasing preferences if they are to thrive, and that includes all facets of the car buying experience – everything must move at a pace that’s comfortable for the purchaser, including the registration of the vehicle after the purchase decision has been made.

Q: Conversely, what do you think is the greatest opportunity for dealerships in terms of business office optimization?

A: Dealers will thrive if they optimize the in-house workflows that power daily operations. One such workflow is the process used to register and title a sold vehicle; this is usually the last step in the sales/delivery process and is frequently one that causes customer satisfaction problems.  If there are problems registering the vehicle, or delivering the permanent registration materials to the customer, the entire purchase experience can be sullied.  Dealers need to get this right in order to preserve the long-term customer relationship.  An automated and streamlined registration and titling solution allows them to do just that.

Q: What are the three dealership must-dos when it comes to registration and titling processes?

1. Understand and abide by the registration and titling regulations of the state in which they operate.  States differ in their requirements, and it is good business practice to make sure that business office personnel are expert in these requirements.

2. Maintain an amicable and collaborative relationship with the state entity responsible for motor vehicle oversight. It is always easier to work through the occasional odd-ball situation when you have built a relationship founded on trust and respect.

3. Choose an automated registration system (if such systems are available in your state) made by a business partner with deep experience in the field.  There are many software providers, some who offer automated registration, but there are few partners with deep subject matter expertise.  This is a field in which that expertise truly matters.

Q: What are the three things dealers must stop doing right away?

A: Most dealers are handling registration and title very well. But if a dealer is doing any of the following, our advice would be to stop doing so immediately:

1. Never attempt to sell a vehicle for which you do not have a “clean” title in-hand. Any liens on the car should have been released and the original paper title in-hand to be used as a part of the registration package. 

2. Do not unnecessarily delay the registration of a sold vehicle to protect against an “unwind”.  At the time the buyers order is signed by dealer and customer, the car is sold. If it is to be operated on the roads of the State, it must be registered. 

3. Avoid treating the registration and titling process as an isolated, orphaned task in the dealership. It’s not. In most cases registering and titling the car is the last touch point with the car buyer.  By realizing this and using the registration process as a final opportunity to enhance the car-buying experience, well- run dealerships establish lasting customer relationships.

Q: There’s been a lot of talk about change in the automotive retail space lately. What do you think are the emerging trends and topics of interest in terms of registration and titling? 

A: The expansion of automated registration programs to additional states is a favorable trend.  There are now approximately 23 states that offer some form of automated registration capability, and the number of states actively investigating automated registration systems is growing. State budgets are very tight, and motor vehicle administrators realize that automated systems reduce their personnel costs and improve the accuracy of state records.

One topic of interest is the recently enacted federal law that allows states to implement an electronic odometer statement at their discretion. Until the enactment of this law, a paper odometer statement with a “wet” signature was required as a part of the registration package for all new vehicles.  Several states will soon allow electronic odometer statements, eliminating the last impediment to an all-digital vehicle purchase transaction (as all the other documents associated with the transaction can already be handled digitally).