FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson says he's starting to see consistent payoff from the $200 million technology and branding bet the company placed on using its own website to sell cars online rather than third-party shop-ping sites.
Eighteen months ago, AutoNation was on course to derive 20 percent of its vehicle sales from TrueCar, Costco and other third parties, Jackson said during a sit-down in his office here. Its own website, autonation.com, was generating just 10 percent of sales.
But with major improvements to the website, including allowing a customer to do the bulk of a transaction online, that's reversed. Today, the website and its AutoNation Express transactional tools account for more than 20 percent of AutoNation sales, with third parties down to about 9 percent.
Moreover, AutoNation has cut altogether two of the lowest-profit lead generators, TrueCar and Costco, the ouster of the former coming in July through a loud and public exchange with TrueCar ex-CEO Scott Painter.
"The third-party sites that were looking more to get in between us and our customers and leverage the situation to extract a ransom from us had to go," Jackson said.