This might be the friendliest DMV in the world.
A DMV in the town of Holly Springs in North Carolina is offering customers a completely different experience than what they might expect.
Tucked into a shopping center within the town, the quaint space hosts everything from a cafe, where customers can grab freshly baked cupcakes, made-to-order smoothies, and coffee, to a kid’s play area for parents who arrive with their children.
The DMV, which opened in October of last year, is privately owned, enabling its owner, Chad Price, to create an improved experience for customers.
Price was able to apply for ownership of the agency due to new initiatives in North Carolina that are allowing companies previously run by the state to be operated by private citizens who pass through a series of interview and background checks and receive a contract through the state.
His motivation for opening the space came from having a horrible experience at the DMV and realizing the need to change the process.
“I made a list of everything I could think of that you typically see at a DMV, from the temperature that is always either too hot or cold, to the cinder block walls and discolored tiles, and said I’m going to do the exact opposite,” Price told Travel + Leisure.
That’s why Price decided to bring in freshly baked cupcakes, so that customers walking in would smell this scent as opposed to the stale smell of papers he typically encountered at DMV offices.
Staff at the office pick out their professional uniforms from the local mall and they’ve installed tables and chairs that have led to customers who stop in simply to have a cupcake and read a book.
“Half of the people who walk in will turn around and walk back out to check the sign because they think they’ve walked into the wrong business,” said Price.
Besides hosting a visually appealing environment, the DMV is also known for its speedy service.
Price utilizes a service that allows customers to text the DMV and come in for a specific appointment time, giving the company the ability to get rid of lengthy lines.
“People always look around like it’s a joke and ask where all of the people are,” said Price, adding that customers will drive in from other counties to come to the DMV.
They've even had one customer who drove for an hour to reach their office.
When Price asked him why he didn't just stop in at one of the several DMV offices along the way, the customer responded by saying that he would still be standing in line had he gone to one of the other locations.
This is not the first organization Price is changing up expectations with, as his medical lab, Mako, also goes beyond typical labs to offer specialty services like a mascot who makes hospital visits to children and a set of drivers who can deliver information like blood results in the same day.
“When we initially got the contract for the DMV, we were told it could take a while to get it going…after three or four months, we’ve become one of the top producing stores in the state,” Price said.
The Holly Springs DMV performs services around vehicle registration, like providing handicap placards and specialty tags, and is open Mondays through Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except on state holidays.
Talia Avakian is a digital reporter at Travel + Leisure. nFollow her on Twitter at @TaliaAvak.