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Today we are joined by Dan Eisner, founder and CEO of True North Mortgage. Last year, True North funded $2.2 billion and look on track to beat that number this year. Dan joins us today to discuss making the leap into hiring, growing a business and why boredom can be a broker’s downfall.

Timestamped Show Notes

(click the timestamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)

[2:08] When did you get into the mortgage business and what inspired the launch of True North?

  • In 1999, before getting my MBA, I told my wife I would never be a mortgage broker.
  • I found myself underemployed for 3 years when a friend introduced me to brokering in 2004.

[3:29] What was your model when you first started your business?

  • I was trained as, and wanted to be, a consultant. Turned out I was not very good at it.
  • I went back to brokering in what I felt was the right way: setting up a storefront with rates in the window.

[5:45] What was involved in the process of getting on Dragon’s Den?

  • Basically, it was a pitch to producers and then I was on.
  • I obtained my MBA at Richard Ivy School of Business, as Kevin O’Leary did, and that was another reason they put me on.

[6:50] Tell us about your primary role in the business at the time.

  • I had $30,000 in savings that I put into the storefront.
  • I did all the deals myself and put heavy emphasis on customer service.

[9:43] What was your first year of production like?

  • Around $40 to $50 million.

[9:55] When did you start looking at opening more storefronts?

  • It was always the plan from the beginning, but we had a hard time getting landlords to lease because we wanted retail space.
  • There was never an issue with money but with the type of business we were versus what they wanted.

[12:00] What was the path like to store expansion?

  • Around year 3 we opened the second store and from there we opened across Canada. We currently have 11 storefronts and we have our own lending option, Think Financial.

[13:00] How much business comes from storefronts opposed to digital?

  • It’s hard to answer because they are tied together.
  • With COVID-19 stores were shut but we are still busy.

[15:30] What percentage of business is from your own lender and has it been beneficial?

  • Roughly half. I would still do it if it just broke even because it is more efficient.

[15:58] Explain the J Curve to us as you see it.

  • It’s when skilled, high profit brokers get bored and start looking for the next challenge.
  • They start doing their own deals, grow and end up with less revenue than they would have had due to overheads.

[20:56] What advice would you give to your past self?

  • Have confidence and go faster.
  • Look at what gives you a competitive edge.

[24:11] How have you found adapting to the dual role of broker and lender?

  • There’s less friction for the client and I can control the customer experience.

[28:59] Right now are you seeing more purchases or more refinances?

  • We are seeing both purchases and switches.

[29:23] What is your advice for starting your own brokerage?

  • Have a clear path and a unique selling point. Differentiate yourself.

[31:54] Is there anything else you would like to share?

  • There are some misconceptions about True North I want to address.
  • We aren’t on comparison sites.
  • We don’t do rate buy downs anywhere near as much as people seem to think.

Contact Dan here:

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