He sees what he’s doing as a public service.
“It’s the way I volunteer,” he said. “Other types of volunteering don’t appeal to me. I love helping people. And I enjoy the activity and the personal satisfaction that comes from having a happy car buyer.”
Weinberg grew up in Minneapolis intending to become a psychologist, but his studies at the University of Minnesota were interrupted when he was drafted. By the time he finished his hitch in the Army, his ardor for school had passed and he segued into sales, taking a job selling Buicks for a long-since-closed dealership in St. Paul.
His initial interest in psychology has served him well, he said. His approach always has been to learn as much as he can about clients in hopes of matching them with vehicles that suit them and their families.
“It’s important to find what you’re looking for,” Weinberg said. “That’s the most important part of this business.”
Many of his clients are fellow retirees. “I protect people who are on a limited budget and make sure they get the best deal out there,” he said.
Rolland White, 85, appreciated having Weinberg on his side when he got a new car recently.
“You always want to make sure that you’re not leaving a whole lot of money on the table, which dealers can do to you,” the Bloomington resident said.
White has been buying cars from Weinberg for “25 or 30 years,” he said. He was calling him about buying yet another one when Weinberg told him that he had started representing buyers instead of sellers. For White, it was an easy decision to enlist his help.
“I trust him,” he said. “If there was ever a problem with a car I got from him, he got it solved. Plus, he knows everybody in town who’s in the car business.”
Fair for everyone
Weinberg insists on dealing with veteran salespeople.
“I want to deal with someone who knows what’s going on,” he said. “I want to negotiate a deal that is fair for everyone. I’m not trying to cut the salesperson out of his commission, and I’m not trying to cut the dealer out of his profit. My ultimate goal is a deal that satisfies both the consumer and the dealership.”
Dealers don’t have any problem with Weinberg’s involvement, said Rob Stewart, the general manager at Lupient Buick/GMC in Golden Valley. In fact, the dealership has a table with a couple of chairs that Weinberg, who served as the manager for a Lupient dealership, is free to use as a makeshift desk.
Car sales at some dealerships are nonnegotiable, but that policy applies only to the cost of the new car. If the potential buyers are trading in a car, Weinberg steps in to haggle over how much the dealer will give them for it.
He also can negotiate the payment plans. Maron drives a lot for his job, and he gets a car allowance from his employer. He has asked Weinberg to arrange for financing in which the monthly payments are as close as possible to that stipend.
“That actually is more important to me than the final price,” he said.
Weinberg deals with an average of six clients a month. Some of them are like Maron, who knows exactly the model and options he wants. Although Weinberg visits at least three dealerships to get competing offers, those transactions typically go fairly quickly.