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August 4, 2015

Be Brief, Be Complete – The First Time

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: — admin @ 10:31 am

Most of us have heard the old expression about land. They’re not making any more of it, hence the value. Well, the same is true of everyone’s time. Some of my clients drive me to consider drink. I ask for name, address, phone number, date and time. I receive a reply with only one component of my request. So I ask again. The second request yields the second variable. Thus, way too many emails are required to acquire basic information. Did they read my request? Or, is it that their attention span is so limited that only the last component of my request has “stuck”?

In general notary work, dealing with individuals; this is somewhat expected. They are not used to providing complete information. It’s not that they don’t want to; it’s that, even with my email on screen; they are incapable when it comes to transversing a multiple item request. So, it’s back and forth; virtually pulling teeth to complete my “work order”.

However, when dealing with professionals, the communications MUST become much more streamlined. Few will want to work with someone who requires a protracted email exchange to accomplish a routine transaction. If you are the cause: you are wasting their time! And, you can be sure of this: they will remember to shun you in the future. The professionals we work with expect communications excellence from us. When you go back and forth a few times they are starting to do a slow burn. They picture a dope at the other end that cannot send concise and accurate email with the proper details. So, if you don’t email to them properly, it’s off the list you go. They are often really busy; multiple emails clog their inbox and, worse, unnecessarily take more of their time.

Before you hit that “send” button, pause to think. Is all the information that they want at the other end included? Are you sure? Is that email going to move the project forward? Or, is it trivial and can wait for when more substantial content is available. Of course some information is time critical and should be delivered ASAP, but not ever itty bitty bit of what you have to say.

Confession time. I have just been chastised by a truly professional email processor. One who needs to respond to over a hundred email items daily. I was taken to task for a ten email exchange which should have been at most, the very most; four emails in total. I wasted a very busy person’s time and they scolded me for doing so. And I deserved it. And that is the inspiration for this blog entry. Yours truly was so “into” the subject that I missed the method. An easy mistake that I am willing to bet many of us make. I was lucky, my correspondence partner chastised me. That, to me, is a lot better than just having them think of me as a jerk. The jerk part is probably in their mind and if I am more considerate of their time; perhaps they will modify their opinion of me in the future. My actions, going forward; will attempt to regain their respect.

Email is a valuable tool. It documents the arrangements and leaves nothing to memory. Voice communications have the same requirement. Brevity and essential factual content mark you as a good communicator. Ramblings with little useful information drive away those who wish to hire you. Voice or email, the “klutz” factor shines thru, and very brightly. Think before you talk and before you email. Is what you are saying what the other side needs and wants to hear? Strive for clear, concise and complete communications – The First Time. You might not get a second chance. They won’t “put up with you” for very long if you don’t show respect for their time.


August 3, 2015

At 123notary we treat you how you’d treat you!

Filed under: Humorous Posts — admin @ 11:18 am

At 123notary we treat you like you’d treat you!

Customer: I’m so sorry, I can’t pay my renewal on time.
123notary: No problem, we’ll give you an extension

(2 months later)
123notary: By the way, remember that we gave you an extension?
Customer: I have a check coming in. I can’t pay you yet.
123notary: Sorry, but we can’t continue to list you forever without payment.
Customer: You mean you’re going to kick me off 123notary? Boo hoo hoo!
123notary: Nope. We’re going to give you a free listing with lower placement, and you can upgrade whenever you have some cash.

Customer: My hero! One more question.
123notary: Yes

CUSTOMER: Do you offer errors and commissions insurance
123notary: Errors and Omissions?
CUSTOMER: Commissions
123notary: Omissions
Customer: Commissions
123notary: I think we’re on the same page here.


August 3, 2015

How to get a lower price on your listing while getting more work?

Filed under: Marketing Articles — admin @ 10:08 am

We recently changed our pricing formula for high spots. We keep prices high, so we can discount them more for those who meet our criteria. We want notaries who have reviews, a good notes section and in particular — are certified by us (not someone else.) The problem is that notaries want a dollar figure for how much they will save on renewal costs if they get off their rear and pass our test. The answer is that there are different break points in our formula. Negative two points to positive two points is one bracket, while two to four points is another bracket. If you pass our test, you might pass through one or even two brackets. I change the percentage discount for each bracket all the time, so the savings are ambiguous. Nobody wants to hear this.

The biggest price difference is between people who have 2>4 points and those who have 4>6 points which is a price break discount of 18%. If you can cross this magical barrier, you save big bucks on high spots as we want to reserve those spots for the most qualified notaries if possible.

If you pass our certification test, you are likely to end up with close to four points. Additionally, the certification results in more clicks which will get you even more points. One thing leads to another around here, and the combination of good things you do for your listing will likely get you above that 4 points threshold. Imagine if you save $50 per year on your listing for ten years straight as a result of passing our certification test. You just saved $500! And for high placed listings we often give them the test for free. All you have to do is study and pass that test. Not only do you save $500, but you might get ten, twenty, or a hundred thousand in extra business during those ten years. Certification is not just a fashion statement, it is actually a big deal financially speaking for you.

Just do it. Stop complaining and telling me that you have enough certifications already. Do you want to win the race or win the argument? What if you win the argument against me that you don’t “need” our certification and you lose $100,000 in business in the long run? Who wins then? Me or you? Neither! It’s time to take our test!


August 2, 2015

It’s Not a Sprint, It’s a Marathon

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 10:48 am

It’s Not a Sprint, It’s a Marathon
Ask any runner. There is a difference in how the two competitions are approached. The Sprint is maximum effort, start to finish. The distance is shorter, and all resources of the body are initially called upon to reach the finish; with maximum effort, as quickly as possible. There is much more strategy in the Marathon. Distances are longer, and human bodies are limited in how long they are able to deliver maximum effort. It’s the same way with machines. Your car may be able to do 120 MPH, but not for hour after hour; far wiser is cruising at half that speed.

The analogy can be carried over to our commercial activities as notaries. One foolish notary has often said “ ‘em it’s just a one wack”; while operating in sprint mode for quick cash. Of course in their case it’s a self fulfilling prophecy. Their client will never make the same mistake of hiring that person again. Doing the least and receiving the most, is the very definition of one who is a sprint notary. Sprint notaries do shoddy, barely acceptable work. The commission expiration date is shaved off their stamp and hand written. If the form lacks a venue, they don’t bother to add it. They rely on the public’s lack of knowledge about notarization to do the minimum; and sometimes less than what is legally required. Embossing? You got to be kidding.

Not wanting to develop a continuing business relationship based on mutual respect; they exploit. Listening carefully, their fee escalates rapidly based on the dire need of the client, or what the sprinter perceives they can afford based on their title or address. Their motto is “I’m going to take them for all I can, with as little effort as possible”. While such activity does work for the “one wack”, it is morally deplorable and tarnishes our reputation with the public.

It’s hard to get a new client and very easy to lose one. Most of us strive to create mutually satisfying business relationships. Value received for value given, repeatable. The marathon notary takes the long view. Of course the assignment at hand must be processed competently; but that is only a part of what is truly required. Effort must be expended to develop an environment of mutual trust, respect, and, of course, profit. Mutual trust comes from your client knowing you will do all you can, best efforts; every time. Respect has to be earned, on both sides of the relationship for it to endure. It starts with respecting yourself and declining a 50$ edoc. Mutual profit is a little discussed, but essential component. Win Win is the goal.

Extra Extra, Notary all about it! Well, you will probably never see that as a headline in your local paper, but extras are a vital tool used by the marathon notary. The last edoc I processed had a request for me to print and process 4 copies of the HUD. I did 6. When an individual calls for POA processing, take the time to educate the caller that multiple copies might be required; and price the additions fairly. Have a “premium”, a give away; that you distribute as a Thank You for Your business. A “Thank You” email, after completing the assignment is not really an extra; it’s just good manners.

The sprinter notary eats seeds for quick nourishment. The marathon notary plants those seeds, carefully tends them and reaps the reward of produce; nourishment in far greater abundance.


August 1, 2015

Early Aug: New Signing Companies

Filed under: New Signing Companies — admin @ 5:38 am

Here are some new signing companies that we added to our list of signing companies.

Bryn Mawr

Local Notary Network

All Wrapped Up Notary

Hart Lee Notary Services

New House Title


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Two & a half Notaries – a notarization experience!



July 31, 2015

Welcome to the Notary University

Filed under: Humorous Posts — admin @ 9:52 am

Most notaries take a course for a few hours in states that require this. In other states, there is no course required. Any numbskull can walk in off the street and get a notary commission providing they are not a felon. Hmm. But, what if America trained its notaries a little better by creating a Notary University.

There are many real topics that notaries could and perhaps should become experts on.

Identifying fake ID’s 101
Do you know how often people are offered fake ID’s. The ones made in China are so realistic looking that you wouldn’t know the difference unless you took a ver long course on identification documents. Don’t forget that standards are different for each of the 50 states, so you will learn a lot in this course. The main points include when particular states updated their ID specifications, and what the distinguishing characteristics are of their ID’s. Otherwise, how would you be able to spot a fake that was well made.

International Documents 207
So many notaries have had trouble with international documents. The instructions are usually formulated in some foreign country where they don’t understand U.S. notary laws. The instructions often have illegal requests which can’t be satisfied and then documents are returned if legally notarized because they are not up to the standards of the people in that foreign country — like Taiwan for example. When are the Chinese going to get it through their heads that you can’t just stamp something — there needs to be certificate wording!

Military Base Notarizations 102
Who can do this can get complicated. You need a graduate level course to understand all of the nuances of notary work overseas. Then, there are other topics like notarizing election ballots which in some states have to be done free of charge.

Unusual Requests 303
Most notaries don’t know what to do if someone asks them to notarize a photo, or to notarize an Oath when there is no wording. What do you do when the ID doesn’t match the name on the document. All of these subtle aspects of notary law need to be taught in a course. That way you will really know your stuff if you can pass a test before graduating. Many notaries don’t have a clue on these topics.

Fingerprinting 101
How to deal with complicated clients who are so stiff you can hardly turn their wrist around. Learn to fingerprint elderly people whose fingers have no more tread on them.

Dealing with Difficult Lenders 201
Sure, there are the usual illegal requests. Learn how to turn these guys down the professional and academic way.

To graduate, you will be required to write a thesis. So pick a topic of your liking and write about it.

And as always, there will be dorms that are build in the shape of giant notary seals and cafeterias that serve Notary burgers on placemats with Jurat wording. We hope you like The Notary University. We like it here.


July 30, 2015

She waited until the last minute to renew on 123notary, and…

Filed under: General Stories — admin @ 11:39 am

This happens all the time. We offer huge discounts for top ranking listings to renew early. Yet, still, most of them wait until the absolute last minute. This is not a good idea. Here’s why.

One lady called Carmen. She gave Carmen her credit card number and asked Carmen to bill her for only one month. My policy forbids this, but Carmen is trying to keep our customer base intact which is a good thing. In any case, the credit card declined. Carmen called the lady back, but the lady’s messages were full. A few days later I called the lady and told her she was a day over due. She said, “But, I gave Carmen my credit card info!”

If you leave your credit card info with Carmen and for some reason the transaction doesn’t go through, you are still held responsible. It is possible that the card could be declined. Or, if we get 40 orders the same day and the phone is ringing off the hook, the order might not get processed until the next day, or in a few rare situations could get lost in the shuffle. This is why we recommend renewing at least a week early. The last three days of the month are crazy for us, and this is when trouble like this happens the most.

What smart budget customers do is to pay six months at a time, but a month ahead of time. What do I mean? If it is Jan 3rd, 2015, they will pay for Feb 01st to Aug 1st, and then they will be due again in Aug, and will pay early for that as well. That way they only pay a little at a time, but get a discount, and don’t have their listing taken off for being late.

A word to the wise — plan ahead, save your money, and don’t wait until the last minute!


July 29, 2015

Alaska Notary wants a $2000 trip fee

Filed under: General Stories — admin @ 11:37 am

I asked a Notary in Alaska if they got any calls being listed in Nome, AK. Here is the response I got.

“These callers need a geography lesson. Nome, AK doesn’t have any roads going to other parts of the state. You would need to fly or take a boat to other locations, the travel fee would be $2000 not including accommodations.”

I wrote them back and told them that as a courtesy, the $2000 travel fee should cover the first three signatures. I think I’m being fair here, right? We had another Alaska Notary Public who preferred to get paid in Salmon. A 2 pound slab for travel fee, plus one piece per Jurat or accompanying Oath. The only question left in my head is: do they have special hotels for the doggies on sled teams when they go far away from home on hunting trips?


July 28, 2015

Milk – The Affiant’s Phone Number

Filed under: Ken Edelstein,Technical & Legal — admin @ 10:04 am

Milk, the common initial nutrient; be it human, whale or squirrel. This life giving liquid provides all essentials for the newborn. Whatever the biological need, be it vitamins, minerals, protein or whatever, it’s all there for the assimilation. What’s that got to do with notary work? Well, that will be covered, by analogy; referring to the information needs of the notary.

I just wasted time and supplies on what turned to a “dud”. The signing was for a significant amount; and the client was a regular. It was to be held at a rather high class “private client” location; a super high floor in a luxury office tower. Knowing my client well, I only glanced at the confirmation to be sure of essential information. Note the word “glanced”.
The docs were going to be available at the bank, however; a set was sent to me to review. Nice. Being a “belt and suspenders” kinda guy, I printed a set. I know the personnel who work with the bigga buck deals are smart; not likely to lose docs. It was only 50 something pages. To my delight, I noticed only a single notarization would be required. The fee was generous. White Glove treatment truly applies here; not to silly titles bestowed by the bottom fishers on the gullible.

We have all seen variations on the “Got Milk” advertisement. We all know it’s good for us. To me the “Milk” of notary information is the phone number of the person you will notarize. Their personal cell, not the switchboard “gate keepers” charged with protecting their executives from excessive calls. The ability to directly contact the affiant can lead to all other essential information. Exactly the same as the nursing mammal receives its needs.

Recall that I “glanced” at the confirmation. Well, it contained only the official e-mail “signature” of the bank officer handling the signing, as the contact info. They could not be reached; and there was the little matter of the announced “Blizzard Warning” (very, very rare) for New York City! It was an early AM job and I wanted to know if the affiant would be able to attend. Calling, the bank both after hours, and in the early AM; yielded the ever present voice mail. I did not “Got Milk”; if I had that golden bit of notary information I could have just called the affiant and asked directly.

The signing was, of course, cancelled; perhaps some other time…… The docs went into the shredder and the calendar entry precluded a different offer – it’s happened to all of us. And it will happen again. Lacking the “milk of notary information” I could not avoid a no-show trip. That’s only one aspect of the nutrients in the milk of information.
Ever go to a typo address? They send you to 457 when the building is 547. The clericals who try to inform us are human; they make mistakes; so do we. But having the one item from which all other information can flow is essential. You can verify the information on the confirmation. It’s also good to speak to be sure they speak your language. That has happened to me. I arrive and the couple do not speak a word of English. My decades ago High School French failed me completely.
If I recall correctly, type “O” blood is the “universal donor”, it can be transfused into virtually anyone. “AB” is the universal recipient. In addition to the nutrients of milk, the affiant phone number is the type “O” of information; they know everything that anyone needs to know about the logistics of the signing location. Stop being treated as a “milkless” (clueless) notary. Similarly, when you operate as a type “AB” taking information from everyone, often conflicting; confusion will follow.


July 27, 2015

How to start a successful signing company from scratch

Filed under: Marketing Articles — admin @ 10:06 am

There are many in this business who want to create vast empires in record breaking amounts of time without knowing what they are doing and without having control over what they are doing. Then there are others who think small and never try to grow their practice. My advice is to grow your practice, but step by step.

There are companies out there who are nationwide. They have databases of tens of thousands of notaries. Their phones are ringing off the hook and if they can’t handle the pressure they crack. There are other signing companies that are too large, and don’t take responsibility to pay their notaries on time. Then, there are what I call boutique signing companies. Those are the companies that I like.

A boutique signing company is one that started out as a Notary, and then gradually started hiring more and more people on call. They often do most of the work themselves in the beginning. Then little by little a gradually higher percentage of the work is done by carefully selected staff. These smaller signing companies often charge more, cover a smaller area such as a handful of counties, and do a better job. The main thing in this business is to protect your reputation. You need people to feel safe giving a job to you. With some of these other signing companies, they might screw up!

Another thing to consider is where to pick your notaries and how to train them. Smart signing companies hand pick their notaries. Smart signing companies train people by hand until they are sure that the notaries will do the job the way they like it done. Sometimes it is easier to pick beginners and train them. Why is this? It is because experienced notaries already think they know it all, and are not receptive to new (or correct) ways of doing things. Regardless of who you pick, or how much experience they have (or how arrogant they are,) try to train, screen and then pick people who you are absolutely sure can get the job done right. Once people are working for you, keep them on a short leash. The minute you are not watching people, they will take liberties, and you could end up in a heap of trouble.

Many notaries complain about signing companies who micromanage. Unfortunately, they get a better result by keeping their notaries under their nose. I do the same when I hire people new. The minute the relationship gets distant, the quality of the work is likely to go downhill. There are exceptions to the rule. Carmen and I only talk from time to time, but she has 13 years of experience working for me and is a pro at what she does. I don’t need to babysit her. She has earned her right to autonomy — but, other people have not! So, watch what others are doing, or pay the price!

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