For Lithia, combining job functions just works better

Donna Harris covers automotive retailing for Automotive News
UPDATED: 10/27/10 2 pm ET EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this blog had the wrong article attached. This has been corrected.

We've told you how AutoNation Inc., the nation's highest-volume new-vehicle retailer, is testing a more streamlined F&I staff -- combining the F&I and sales functions at either the director or the manager level.

Well, publicly held Lithia Motors Inc., the nation's ninth-largest retailer, already performed a productivity study and combined the F&I manager and sales manager positions in some markets, depending on the talent pool and size of the store.

Most of Lithia's stores are in small and midsize towns. There is no finance director over the F&I managers that you would more typically find in a high-volume metro store. Instead, the store's general manager handles the responsibilities of a finance director.

All employees are cross-trained to cover one another's responsibilities.

“We are in smaller markets,” CFO Chris Holzshu says. “It's what we need to do to be competitive.”