Finance manager, Laura Auto Group
Amy Hitch hadn’t planned on entering the car business, nor did she even know what being a finance manager entailed. But unlike other companies she tried, the local Ford dealership with an open finance-and-insurance job was willing to hire the 24-year-old college graduate with an MBA but no experience.
“I definitely just fell into it,” Hitch told Automotive News.
More like thrown into it. Hitch said she had little training or established process to draw upon as the finance manager of Hutcheson Ford, based in St. James, Mo. Her only mandate was to hit the $600 F&I gross profit average of her predecessor.
“Ten years ago, I was given the opportunity to build their finance department from the ground up and really create something amazing,” Hitch told her peers while speaking at the Ethical F&I Managers Conference earlier this year.
Hitch told Automotive News she grew F&I gross profit immediately, attributing it to her ability to interact with customers — which paid off when those customers referred others. But she also developed processes involving the sales staff.
“I got the sales team’s buy-in,” Hitch said. “And I think that would be the biggest piece of how I grew it.”
She also introduced a new F&I menu system. Today, the average F&I gross profit exceeds $2,100 per vehicle, and three-fourths of deals include a service contract sale.
Hitch told the Ethical F&I Managers Conference she was one of only three women at the dealership at the time she was hired, and the only one in management. “I had a trail to blaze,” she said.
She recalled asking during orientation about the retailer’s maternity leave. The response: “I don’t know; the last woman who had a baby never came back.” Hitch said she returned six weeks after the birth of her first child and pumped milk in an apartment above the collision center.
Then in 2017, she had triplets. “We’re still in shock,” she joked.
Though she trained a fill-in, the dealership hired someone to replace her assuming she’d never return.
That would-be replacement “didn’t last long” while Hitch continued at Hutcheson Ford until this June, when she began a finance manager role at Laura Auto Group, based in Sullivan, Mo.
Hitch told Automotive News she’s excited about joining a larger dealership group and competing and growing with other F&I managers.
Still, Hitch said she struggled with leaving Hutcheson Ford — even though she felt it was time to do so.
“I think a lot of it had to do with walking away from everything I built,” she said.
— John Huetter