Colin shares how patience and proper planning have helped him build one of the largest Brokerages in Canada. He also identifies the mindset required to be a successful Mortgage Broker and business owner. You are going to love this interview.
Years as a Broker: 5 years
Brokerage: Verico Financial Group Inc
Team: 2300 agents
“What price are you willing to pay.” – Colin Dreyer
- Business success and business is all about disciplines.
- Business is about supporting your family, your life and reaching financial goals
- Make sure that you’re realistic about your expectations
- It’s not Verico or any other brand that’s going to make you successful. It’s you that’s going to make successful.
- Complacency is something we have to get beyond
- Wake up with purpose.
Scott: Colin, are you ready to rock?
Colin Dreyer: I am ready to rock. Thank you Scott and it’s a pleasure to be in this interview with you.
Scott: Awesome. Can you tell me just a little bit about yourself and how you got into the mortgage business?
Colin: Sure. I’ll give you’re a brief overview. I’ve got an extensive career. I call myself a serial entrepreneur, Scott. I’ve always believed in individual ownership and business. I started in the real estate business originally. I got involved in owning real estate offices and franchising in that business. Of course, the natural assimilation to the mortgage business, whenever anyone is buying a house, they need mortgages.
So as a result to that, I started the mortgage company in the late 1990s and called the “Mortgage Sources” as a matter of fact. We were arguably the biggest in British Columbia at that time. I started the franchise process through the Mortgage Source.
I’m proud to say that that particular company brought a significant amount of brokers, significant broker who are still in the business today making great contribution. Entrepreneurship is just in my blood. I believe in it. I will continue to promote it and support it as part of my background.
Scott: You’re one of the guys who started the franchise model for mortgage brokers?
Colin: I wouldn’t say started the franchise model. I think that at the end of the day, it was Mortgage Source was in play at the time in many years ago. But I had a concept and I thought it was important to the real estate in sort of the mortgage industry in the fact that I thought that single entrepreneurs; individual owners had as much validity as what we call the “super brokers” who came in the play in the year 2000.
I thought there was disparity in terms of balance that the recognition and the business of the individual entrepreneurs did should be recognized at the same level as larger broker houses. That was a quest for me to equalize that playing field and I think we have done a great job in the last ten years in doing that.
Scott: I’m going to come back to that in a little bit. But before we dive in to your stories, I would like to ask about a success quote because I love how quotes distill an idea down to something that’s portable; that’s memorable and it can really influence you. So can you share a quote that’s really having an impact on your life or business?
Colin: I’ve got two quotes that I think that are very impactful and it’s my mantra in terms of moving forward in anything I do. One is “Your outcome is determined by your setup.” I’ve experienced this in my careers in the many businesses and entrepreneurship businesses that I’ve started. I’ve found that if you don’t set yourself up appropriately in the beginning, then you’re going to pay the price at the end. And I think a due diligence us at the start, will pay a lot of dividends at the end.
The second quote that I govern myself by is “What price are you willing to pay?” Everyone wants to be successful in various ways. Everybody wants to earn very significant amounts of funds and moneys in different ways. And there’s a difference between wishing and hoping and understanding, there’s a price to pay. In every situation, there are consequences and there’s willingness of how much work has to go in to achieve that success.
Both of those quotes determine kind of how I approach business and any business opportunity that comes before me.
Scott: Can you give me an example of something about your outcome is determined by your setup? So can you give me an example of something maybe that you’re working on or worked on recently that you really thought about the setup because you were about the outcome that you wanted?
Colin: Well I guess, yeah. I guess Verico is one that really is relevant to that. It’s the fact that when I owned my own mortgage company for a number of years, I wanted to – I thought the concept of a network of top tier owners was important. And so, to do that; I put together a research kind of due diligence business plan. That plan was a little premature on his day but I hung on to that business plan for I would say at least 8 or 9 years before kind of the industry grew to its level of acceptance. And I found that the more specific we were with our focus and our business mantra and our mission statement hasn’t changed in 10 years is the fact that we built around it.
But because we’re so disciplined with the focus at the beginning; I think it guaranteed our success as we moved through the process. I just think that “due diligence” at the beginning; understanding your focus; understanding your purpose is really important to any business model that you’re trying to undertake. And that goes from an individual perspective to a larger corporation.
Scott: Something you just said just tweaked my interest here. You said that you had the sort of research that you’ve done and you had a plan but it took some time before you were able to actually implement. How do you exercise patience? Because I know as a person like me, I always, when I have an idea, I want to implement it now like literally. So maybe the market wasn’t ready for what you’re – How did you sit on it or how did you exercise that discipline? Because I, sometimes definitely lack that.
Colin: I think that’s one of the questions for many people or our owners, brokers across the country. I talk different time to time. Patience is one of the things I really advocate. I think at the end of the day, if it’s worthwhile getting, it’s worthwhile waiting for. I believe the patience is a discipline that you need to learn. I mean, business success and business is all about disciplines.
It’s about discipline to work; discipline to commit; discipline to have a business plan and part of that discipline is patience. And I think in every point of life whether it’s personal or in business, we all know that there’s a time to put your feet on the gases; the time to break and there’s a time to hold a coasting on cruise level. I think that patience is a virtue of business.
I believe that people should never get over anxious. I don’t believe there’s ever more any mortgage life and death emergencies. And I think the businesses; I look at it as a sport. And so, you never shoot the pot before you’re ready. Same with business; you never commit to something until you earn a position to make sure that you’re ready to take on that commitment; and you’re ready to commit on that work level the navy requires. So I think patience is a learned art.
Scott: I feel like this is a coaching call so I really appreciate this because these are some of the things I needed to hear about especially recently with some things that I’ve going on. Hopefully, everyone else gets some…
Colin: I just want to add a comment on that, Scott. I think the thing is what you find is that there are so many things in life that you can’t control, okay? There’s so many things that happen in your life that control your emotions, your business whether the fluctuation, rates, economy and different regulatory aspects. We can’t control these things. What we can control is how we approach things and that’s where the patience level comes in and the discipline comes in.
I think that business is about supporting your family, your life and reaching financial goals. But your life is about yourself as an individual. And so if you understand and control yourself, then you’ll interlope that in your business life and you’ll have a successful journey.
Scott: That’s awesome. I was like, for me as an entrepreneur business owner, failure is something that happens and looking—there’s never fail but looking back, there’s always a lesson in it. Can you share an example of something that you had failed at in business and then, the lesson that you learned from it looking back?
Colin: Yeah. I can and I can relay this specifically. There was a time when I was involved in building construction, real estate offices and insurance companies. I was doing very well, exceptionally well. One thing I didn’t anticipate, this was many years ago was the big shift in the market place. And so because I was young and I wasn’t as thoughtful as I am today, the market shift negatively affected me. And it was the best lesson I ever had to be quite honest with you, Scott. It’s one of those situations where I learned so well from that particular lesson that has governed the rest of my career.
So I think there’s always a lesson to be learned in anybody. There’s always a crossroads and an epiphany that you’ll have in your business. The question is do you absorb it? For me, it was one of those things where I learned “don’t read your own press clippings.” Never do a network statement and think you’re bigger than you are. Make sure that you’re realistic about your expectations. And so, when I got a bump in the road from my businesses, I took socked of it and I’ve learned a valuable lesson from it and it helped me govern my success from that point forward.
I think everyone needs their knees skinned from time to time and the lesson is to learn from it and not take it as a setback but as an opportunity to grow.
Scott: Great. That’s awesome. I know no one as a little kid said when I grow up; I want to be a CEO of a national mortgage brokerage company. Can you share sort of your journey? A little bit at the beginning but how you ended up from sort of in real estate and recognizing an opportunity to recognizing the bigger opportunity which is kind of connecting brokers and helping build a bigger network for a whole bunch of independent owners? So can you share that journey?
Colin: Sure. I tell you. First of all, I went to a university to be a school teacher. And while I was in my last practicum; my last semester, I got into the real estate industry. I learned more, earned more in that 6 months selling real estate part-time and I was full time as a teacher.
Though I love being in the aspect of being a teacher and I think that my whole life is being about teaching and helping and mentoring. And so I got into a real estate sales and I was very successful; extremely successful; number one in the company for a long period of time.
But my ambitions were to continue that aspirations of helping people. And so I actually had an aspiration to be a business person. I actually gave up a more successful career to get into ownership and management of real estate and mortgaging and other companies because that was more my passion. And so my passion is really obviously to be a successful entrepreneur. But my passion is to help people. My joy is the success of others and I’ve always enjoyed that and I always will.
The reason I’m in business today and still to continue to be passionate about the business because I love to see people succeed. It inspires me and the more people succeed, the more inspiration I get.
Scott: Just out of curiosity. You said you were going to be a teacher. What subjects were you going to teach if you…?
Colin: Actually, it was Phys Ed.
Scott: Phys Ed?
Colin: I’ve always enjoyed sports. I’ve always been active in sports. Sports are precursor to discipline. They teach you about team and team effort. But the development from an individual perspective and helping people, it was an aspiration. I felt that the financial journey was better in business than it was in teaching though I applaud anybody who takes on the professional teaching.
Scott: Great. And even as a leader of a company, you do get the opportunity to teach. It’s just the different context.
Colin: I’m doing it every day. I do it every day. I talk to people every day. I’m mentoring people every day. People, as I say, people within our particular organization, I give every one of our owners my individual private line and they’re welcome to phone me at any time.
I have a vast experience and I will tell them I will give them any knowledge I have and any assistance I can on a one on one basis. So I enjoy that. As I say, that’s my inspiration. That’s my sweet spot.
Scott: With Verico, where did the idea come from? Because it’s obviously – when did you have that moment where you were like, “Okay, this is something that I feel like the market needs,” because you’re a bit of a pioneer in this? So when did that come and where did that idea come from?
Colin: That idea came really in 2003, 2004; reimplemented in 2005. At the time in 2003-2004, I was with the group called the “Mortgage Training Group.” There was a number of industry participants from [Need to verify names: [spp-timestamp time="12:22"] Colls Racky, Peter Makeney, Tom Hogg, Greg Williamson and Gard Bellops and I had a training and organization. And from traveling around the country and helping people develop their businesses,
I realized there was a specific need out there. There was a need in the niche; in the top handed, in the top individual entrepreneurs.
We’re not getting fairly recognized and they weren’t a part of a community. And I know that everyone says that we have to go after the top people and I’m sure everyone does. But our mantra was to rise to the top 20% within the industry. To that end and still today if you want to join Verico, you make application and we have a 7 page application.
We make sure that the people fit within the confines of our demographics. We were very successful. People caught on to that idea. They wanted to be part of a community that related to a high-level of professionalism, integrity and standards that they wanted. That was what Verico built the passion and in the mission statement, the Verico was on at the time and still is to this day.
We related. We hit the market right at the right time and people responded to us in kind. So I’m very thankful to all those people that recognized us that value proposition and still do today and support us.
Scott: Right. Another question I have about when you guys initially started. So you’ve been doing this for 10 years now with Verico. Can you share an example of a mistake maybe that you’ve made with your brokerage? But obviously, there was a lesson. But can you share an example something that maybe didn’t work out the way that you planned?
Colin: I don’t know whether we made any mistakes. I will say this. As our business model, our passion was to be beyond franchise model and help entrepreneurs develop and grow their business and become more profitable. And so, our mission statement is still the same in that regard and we still commit to that.
The one thing that I guess along the way that was kind of always a puzzlement for me to a certain degree when people were considering making choices, is that sometimes we didn’t get the chance to explain our value proposition.
I think the biggest frustration; I know it was a mistake more of a frustration is people don’t understand the value proposition that Verico has and what it can do for their business. And so, we do a good job of that. But I guess, this is just in competitive level. I’d like to see more and more people know more about Verico and if it were good to their business, they would join us. And if we were not good to their business, then they have other choices.
Scott: Right. That actually dovetails perfectly into what I want to ask you next. So there are several different options in the marketplace for that people can join. So in your mind, what makes Verico unique?
Colin: I think the difference being simply this is. We’re not a consumer brand in any particular way. I think we got an excellent reputation internally within the mortgage community. But we’re about your business. We’re about your business; your brand; your profitability. We’re a management company that helps you continue to aspire to the success that you want.
When someone joins Verico, it’s not about “here’s what we do for you.” It’s about “what you need” and we match our particular business model on all the tools, services and products to that particular individual. It’s understanding an individual entrepreneur; where they want to go; what their goals are; their lives for the next few years. And so we match our support systems to them. And so, we’re all about an individual’s business. When we wake up every day, we go out there to earn everyone’s business. And so far, we’ve done a good job of doing that. I’m very proud of that. We’ve evolved our business significantly in the last 10 years with the tools, the services, the products and support systems that we have. We want people to succeed. And so, our success is the success of our individual owners and our programs are customized to support the individual. We’re not ‘templated’ and say “this is the way you do it. This is how it should be done.” We’re not about that. We’re more of a customized organization for each individual entrepreneur.
Scott: Can you share an example of maybe not a name of an individual or a company who recently joined you guys and like what was their – when their words or what was their reasoning for wanting to join Verico. Because I think it helps people to see where someone’s coming from.
Colin: I think what it is. I do believe this and Scott, it could be interesting for people to hear from me to say is that, and I said this yesterday when I was having a chat with one of our owners. It’s the fact, at the end of the day, it’s not Verico or any other brand that’s going to make you successful. It’s you that’s going to make successful. What we do is support your success and so, we have an individual, independent company that a lot work with financial planners. I certainly haven’t done this due diligent in terms of keeping the customer in contact or making different options available to consumers along the way. He joined our particular organization.
He’s quote, and we do have an add-on on this as a matter of fact was the fact as result of using our technology being our systems that we have in place to support his business, he feels he’s got an extra additional two to three hundred transactions last year and that made himself–he arguably said, he made himself an extra almost $500,000 as a result of joining our organization and using our system. It didn’t interfere with his business.
What it did was support his business. So these are quotes and testimonials that we’re very, very proud of because people say is that Verico is there to help my business. They’re not there to overtake my business. My belief is if you own your business and you pay the bills, you have the right to make the decisions.
We have a license agreement which defines certain categories in terms of professional advocacy in trading things that are important to the industry but the end of the day, we shouldn’t be imposing our standards on your business. If you own it, you should be able to make those decisions and we support that and we support how you do that.
Scott: Right. It’s just my observation I guess from what I see but with the Verico brand, in particular that up to people who have sort of the brand that they want to continue to promote themselves their own company. Verico is really good about allowing people to promote their own thing and just, you’re kind of behind the scenes, helping them to run their business, is that a good way to describe it?
Colin: I think it is. I think it really is a good way as to say we’re a support mechanism for that. We have to remember that mortgage brokering is still a very localized entity. At the end of the day, we don’t want a confusion in brand. What we want to see if it’s XYZ and you’re renowned in your local community, then you shouldn’t be changing your brand. Due to a change in something else that has nothing relevance to the consumer in your community. You want to promote your brand and equity, because it’s about your business and building value in your business at the end of the day.
Scott: I’d like to switch now. We’ve talked about the past, the present, about the futures. So where do you think is the opportunity for the big brokerage house in the next couple of years.
Colin: I think brokerage house, I think we all require an industry to have a deeper relationship with consumers. I mean the time we’ve gone from the 9% market share in 1999, arguably that went in the year 2000 such to maybe 32-33%. We’re arguably at 25% market share right now, 42% for the first time buyers. I think we have 25% of any particular market share. We got a good business and I mean collectively. I think that the opportunity right now is for all brands to enhance the relationship and the value proposition of independent mortgage broker’s to consumers.
We collectively do that. I think we got a huge opportunity within the industry to grow our business and to expand it in various ways. That being said, we’ve got to be more valuable to the consumer and being more valuable to consumers means being able to offer various level of products and services, so I think that we’re moving to a level and I think we’re embarking on this slowly.
I’ve endorsed it one stop shopping for a long period of time in my career but it’s hard to get there. But I think we’re embarking now and the individual practitioner understand a better relationship with consumers and being more adept in offering more tools and services products as a result to that relationship.
Scott: Yeah. What do you see though as the biggest risk to the brokerage house in the next couple of years?
Colin: I think complacency, to be quite honestly, Scott. I think the individual gain and complacency is the challenge that we have today. I think that notwithstanding of course, we can get into the challenge as a regulatory aspect, suppliers being able to continue to support our industry. I think those things are in placed already. So I’m going to stay at this moment for our discussion here that we’re going to say that those things are the main is going to stay in place but I think for the distribution perspective, we have to do a better job of who we are. I know we’ve done a great job and we got a lot of great people across the country to do that and so do other brands in fairness to them but complacency is something we have to get beyond.
We have to really embrace ourselves with consumers and we have to do a better job of who we are and what we do with consumers and the more we do that, the more support we’re going to have from our lenders or suppliers and the more we’re going to be able to move the needle on broker market share which has always been an ambition of mine. How do we increase the business if we can all have a large broker market share, then all competitors can enjoy the benefits of that all individual brokers can but if we don’t, then we’re all going to fight over scraps and that’s the wrong direction to go.
We have a great opportunity in this industry and we need to be diligent about how we go about it and main priority for people is simply this. Think of your job as a profession. Get up every day and act, talk, walk, do the things that are professional mortgage consultant would do. If we do that on a daily basis and take care of our customers individually and keep them customers for life, then there’s a good future for the whole industry.
Scott: Yeah, definitely. So the complacency for sure is something that, if we don’t dig down every day, get better, somebody once said to me that every day you wake up unemployed and I think it’s a good way to remind myself.
Colin: Yeah, we have a phrase here that we like, “Wake up with purpose.” I like the unemployed part but if you are unemployed, then find a purpose. I always tell the story which I think it’s interesting, Scott. I think you may have heard this before but when I look at this business, if we have what we called billions of dollars with inventories sitting on the shelf, we have zero caring cost for that, our job is to get out professionally every day, find consumers to have financial needs and once we find that consumer, we can take that product off the shelf and match that to the consumer.
As a result to that, we could compensate it from our supplier vendors and generously so. At the end of the day, isn’t that a heck of an opportunity? We have no caring cost aside from our own level of cost of projecting ourselves to be good at what we do and we get to take off the shelf billions of dollars worth of inventory. No caring cost and we get compensated for. If that’s not an opportunity, and people don’t think that’s not worth getting up every day on purpose, then I ‘m sorry, please get another job.
Scott: Yeah, I know. Being a mortgage broker we get to look at lots of financials from other businesses and it’s always amazing to me how great of a business is when you think about the overheard versus what you connect and it’s amazing.
Colin: It’s amazing and the heartwarming part of all this, you help Canadian consumers with their financial challenges or opportunities in purchasing a new home. What better fulfillment can you have? You’re helping consumers and you’re getting paid for that product and you don’t have a caring cost.
Scott: In most cases, you don’t have to even charge any fees.
Colin: Yes, that’s correct. I think this is a wonderful industry and I would encourage everyone who’s listening to this and everyone across the country, we got a great business. Let’s all work collectively to protect it.
Scott: This is my final question. What is you BHAG for your company phrase, big hairy audacious goals for the next five years?
Colin: I think one of the things we’ve done and we’ve shifted which is really important I think as an industry, I think there can be reliance as the industry continues to mature to move away from egocentric to what I call business-centric.
I think that if you have any business and certainly any suppliers reliant solely on the mortgage distribution side, mortgage brokers, then we need to continue to validate who we are and make sure that we are not egocentric, we are business-centric.
The big goal that we’ve had and we moved towards this very clearly is that there’s a reason to be in Verico. There’s a reason to join Verico, there’s a reason to be in this industry and we continue to validate that. Sometime it’s not the big audacious goal is out there, it’s doing a good job of what we already got before us. I think there’s still worked to be done on the opportunities we have with us. Notwithstanding that with cross sales, we have deeper relationships with consumers but the big goal is to take the ego out of the business and put the business side in the business and if we can do that and that certainly our goal here at Verico because we’re all about business people and I think that’s a great opportunity for all of us.
Scott: Yeah, you got me fired up to get back to work now after all of these conversations. I feel like this is a pep talk on top of an interview. So Colin, where can people find you online?
Colin: You can find me online–you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. My private number, if you want to contact me is 604-644-1043.
Scott: Awesome and I really appreciate your time today and this interview is awesome. Hope that Verico continues to grow and rock the rest of the year.
Colin: Thank you Scott. I appreciate that and by the way, come my complements, to you for doing these interviews. They’re fantastic. I have listened to the other interviews you’ve done and everyone has offered a great insight and continue to do that and continue to learn and grow and continue to success to you as well.
Scott: Awesome. Thank you Colin.
Colin: Thanks Scott. Have a great day.