Drive-thru coffee, drive-thru meals, drive-thru banking and, now, Hobbs can boast a drive-thru MVD.
Having a six-inch thick bulletproof window helped Village MVD stay in business in Ruidoso last year when all other MVD offices were closed due to the pandemic.
Now, Village MVD has expanded with an office in Hobbs at 401 E. Bender Blvd., using the former Washington Federal Bank building, including its drive-thru stations.
Maybe it was luck, but company president Shelly McNutt credited some divine intervention that pushed her and her husband Garlan McNutt, director of operations, into the concept of a drive-thru MVD services business.
A privately owned and operated extension or partner of the Motor Vehicle Division of the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Dept., Village MVD started business in Ruidoso long before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
“We’re licensed and regulated by the State of New Mexico,” Shelly explained. “We have to re-license every year with them and we have to carry exorbitant amounts of insurance and bonds and everything to make sure we’re doing everything by the book.”
Shelly explained she and her husband had moved to Ruidoso after retiring early from owning businesses in another state.
While watching Garlan’s frustrating experience with the MVD as he worked to transfer his commercial driver’s license to this state, Shelly found a notice on social media regarding the closing of Ruidoso’s MVD office. The couple decided to contact the local MVD expert, a former employee of the closed office, to see what they needed to do to fill that hole.
In addition to all the hoops required by the state, the McNutts went about looking for a location, setting up business and raking in the customers.
“We were very successful very quickly. People were excited that we were there. We had rented a building. The building was just a good location there in Ruidoso Downs. It was the right size,” Shelly said. “We didn’t rent it because it was a former bank building. We rented it because it checked the other boxes, thinking we would just park our cars in the drive thru and be good.”
Then, COVID hit and all businesses deemed “non-essential” by the governor’s office were shut down.
“But we had drive-thrus and we had six inches of bullet-proof glass between us and our customers,” Shelly said. “So, we contacted the state and said, hey we have a drive-thru; can we open? They said six inches of bulletproof glass, we think you’ve got it covered, yes.
“So, for the longest time, we were the only MVD in the state that was open for business,” the company president continued. “Our business kind of exploded because all of the state offices were shut down. They weren’t doing anything. So, we got to stay open and we said, hey, this drive-through MVD concept is a really good one.”
Bring your paperwork, stay in your car, take up to 10 minutes to get a title or registration properly handled and be on your way without ever physically contacting another person — a perfect business model, the McNutt’s realized.
And if, for any reason, not all the required paperwork comes with the customer, Shelly said, “We emphasize customer service. It’s easier to be kind to somebody than to be ugly to somebody. We go a little bit extra to make sure everything gets done.”
It may take a few more minutes, but the title and registration specialists are trained to make necessary telephone calls to verify residency or acquire other details rather than just send the customer away with instructions to come back when they have all the paperwork.
Shelly said the company also opened another office in Artesia, this time without the benefit of a closed bank building, and started getting encouragement to come to Hobbs.
“Everybody in Hobbs has been hitting us up like crazy, especially the oilfield companies,” she said. So, she and her husband began looking for a location to rent in Hobbs, but were having trouble finding it at first.
“We happened to be driving down Bender one day and saw this bank building,” Shelly recalled. “Garland said, hey, that one’s closed. I didn’t believe him, but he was right. We found out it had been closed over a year.”
She said the owner, who had been using the building for his business storage, liked the drive-thru MVD concept and offered an affordable rent rate, and “here we are,” Shelly smiled.
“With COVID, people really appreciate the drive-thru because you don’t have to be in contact with a ton of other people,” Shelly said.
As a perk, “We’re very quick,” Shelly added.
“That’s one of the things we really pride ourselves on; our average transaction is 10 minutes or less. We do our best to make sure people are in and out and getting on with their day because none of us have time to sit at the MVD all day,” Shelly said.
At the Hobbs location, Village MVD has four employees who staff stations behind the window of the former bank building, all certified by the state after background checks and FBI fingerprinting, followed by weeks of training and testing to state standards.
The title and registration specialists at the window are Cathy Runyan, Dawn Ruth, Angie Duran and Socorro Ruiz, and they’re available for VIN inspections, too.
“Each member of our staff is a Level I and Level II VIN Inspector and has the ability to perform VIN inspections at our office or at the customers’ home or business,” Shelly said.
The company president added one of the niches to which the firm caters is commercial business, having established that in Ruidoso.
“Right now, we’re doing all the car dealerships. We work with the tax assessor’s office in Ruidoso, all of their mobile home transfers,” Shelly said. “We do all the banks in Ruidoso. They are really glad we’re here because they have absolutely no time to go sit at the MVD all day.”
Just like bank transactions, “We have the little tubes. All the paperwork fits. Obviously, if they get a new license plate, one of these pretty ladies will run it out to them, but other than that, it’s all drive-thru,” Shelly said.
Currently, the hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, but the McNutts hope to expand those hours soon.
“We have plans to extend our hours by September. If all goes as planned, our new hours will be 8:00-6:00 M-F and we might include some Saturday hours should we see a need,” Shelly concluded. “The good news is we don’t close during the lunch hour.”