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May 4, 2021

18 things you can do to offer better customer service as a notary

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 10:37 am

Most Notaries complain that they don’t get enough work. Others complain that they get too much work, but not enough of the good work. Life is like this. But, by providing super customer service, you will get more repeat clients and that is one of the most potent secrets to success. Here are some customer service tips for Notaries.

1. Answer questions the way they were asked
Don’t talk too much or give answers that beat around the bush or go on tangents. Pleasantly stick to the facts and answer the question.

2. Answer the phone stating your name
Don’t say, “Hello.” Let the world know who you are. After all, what if they think they dialed incorrectly? Also, they will feel that you are more professional if you do.

3. Avoid background noise during calls.
Apologize if you are in a noisy place and try to go to a quiet place. Make sure your radio, television, and children are “off” before you pick up the phone, otherwise excuse yourself. Most children’s mouths come with an off switch, it’s doesn’t always function though.

4. Be on time
Commentary: arrive slightly early and wait.

5. Confirm the signing and ask a long list of pertinent questions.
That way your signing will go smoothly.

6. Dress nicely
People are shallow and judge you based on how you dress. I’m not like that, but then you should see how I dress. I judge you on what you know, how cooperative you are, and if you are reliable. Your nice clothes are the icing on the cake if you have the other qualifications. Business casual is recommended for all three genders. There are three now, right?

7. Don’t discuss politics or religion
I know, in 2020 that is easier said than done. Our whole existences are controlled by our fascist governors who won’t even let us have Thanksgiving the way we want. Next thing you know they will say, “No cranberry sauce by decree of the emperor!!!” As a general rule, be polite and don’t upset anyone in any way.

8. Park where they want you to park, or park in the street if possible.

9. Introduce yourself at the door and briefly explain your function. Then find a nice table to sign on. Let them choose where to sign, but you do need a flat surface.

10. Explain, but not too much
If you are trained in introducing the documents, if your state allows that, then do it. But, don’t explain the legal meanings of the documents otherwise you are playing Mortgage broker or Attorney. Vague descriptions of what the documents are about is okay, and where critical information is works. Explaining the terms of the loan is not a good idea.

11. Ask them if they have any other questions
Some people have notary questions or spiritual questions. You might be seen as helpful if you help them with those. For spiritual questions, my suggestion for a canned answer would be to give them a serious and caring look and say, “Stay centered.”

12. You can ask them if they have anything else that needs to be notarized.
It doesn’t offer to do more at no extra cost. That increases your chance of getting a valuable review exponentially.

13. Some small talk is good
Small talk is very cultural. Americans seem to like it while Germans and Koreans seem to not like it. Africans like small talk, big talk or any kind of talk and tend to be more sociable than the rest of us. My analysis is that the less a culture engages in talking, the more successful they are. But, you will be seen as nice if you make just the right amount of small talk without getting into any uncomfortable issues, such as how you like Gretchen Witmer’s (D Michigan) new haircut or policy as to whether or not humans should be allowed to leave their house.

14. After you are done
Let them know you will drop the FedEx right away, and then do that. They want to know their documents are in good hands.

15. If there is a problem
Make sure you have all the contact numbers of the Lenders, Brokers, Title people, etc. You might need to call them to resolve some issues. Being prepared and helpful wins the game.

16. Resolve all issues with animals beforehand
If you have issues with cats, dogs, gerbils, oxen, etc., let them know before the signing so they can put them behind a locked door that doesn’t open on its own, hence the term locked.

17. Don’t show them your gun or pepper spray

18. Notary humor sometimes works
You can tell them about the notary who was asked to notarize a mannequin. But, the notary who was dragged into a bedroom by the hot female signer… save that one for a signer you know a little better. The joke about how many notaries you need to screw in a lightbulb is generally safe.

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May 1, 2021

Precautions as a notary are like wearing your seat belt

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 6:28 am

One out of seven seasoned Notaries I talked to has ended up in court at least once. Generally this happens because of something outside of the Notary’s control. Fraud, theft, or someone taking advantage of a confused elder are the main reasons for court cases.

Notaries who have never been to court think it will never happen to them. It is like car accidents. Bad ones do not happen much, but when they do, if you are not wearing a seatbelt and/or don’t have good airbags, you might be in big trouble. Just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it won’t happen tomorrow, or in twenty years. So, take precautions. Think of these as wearing a facemask if that makes it more relatable.

If a signer is senile, elderly, in a hospital or nursing home, make sure you can identify they correctly and that they can explain to you what they are signing. Don’t ask yes or no questions as they will say yes to anything and are probably on morphine and not all there. If they go over the document point by point, then they know what they are signing today. They might not remember a year from now though, and that is dangerous for you if it goes to court.

Your journal is your only evidence, so if you say, “My state doesn’t require a journal” you are a fool. The state might not require it, but a judge or investigator needs the journal as that is your only evidence of what actually happened.

PRECAUTIONS
1. Make sure the name on the ID proves the name on the document. Don’t use the “you can have more but not less” rule, because notaries always forget which document you can have more on – the ID or the document. So, remember my rule. “The name on the ID must prove the name on the document.” The ID name can be matching but longer, or matching and identical to prove the name.

2. Take a thumbprint unless your state forbids it. I personally might take a thumbprint anyway in Texas because the state forbids selling or distributing that information and not taking it — and that is your only hard evidence of the identity of the signer. Fake ID’s abound, but fake thumbprints do not.

3. In the “Additional Notes” section of your journal write down about the situation, the mental state of the signer, who else is there, and that the signer explained the document to you. This could save your rear if you go to court three years later because you will not remember what happened off the top of your head. Write down anything else noteworthy about the situation to job your memory when investigated.

4. Decline jobs that are too sketchy or if you are unsure that the signer knows what is going on.

5. Have the signer verify who the other people are with them if they are elderly. Sometimes they are not related and sometimes they are scamming the signer.

6. Make sure you know how to give Oaths correctly. You could lose your commission if a judge finds out otherwise.

SUMMARY
I was investigated 3 times, but had my paperwork and thumbprints in order. It took me minutes to query jobs done a year or so ago since I had a stack of journals all in chronological order. I always identified people correctly and took notes in my journal for credible witnesses and other pertinent facts. Be sure to do the same, or even more. If you do everything correctly, you still might end up in court, but it will be a shorter case as you have more compelling evidence as to what happened — especially the thumbprint which is your only hardcoded proof of identity.

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April 14, 2021

Signing Agent questions answered

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 7:42 am

Here are some basic questions that people have with quick answers.

1. Should I start a notary website?
Quick Answer: No!
Commentary: It’s very expensive and time consuming. Probably not unless you’re really serious.

2. Should I sign up on Notary directories?
Quick Answer: Yes!
123notary, NotaryRotary, Snapdocs, and NotaryCafe are the best, but they are all different and attract very different clientele and varying amounts of business. 123notary gets more title work, while Snapdocs gets a high quantity of low ballers.

3. Do I need to understand the documents I notarize
Quick Answer: No!
Commentary: Your job is to fill out forms correctly and identify people correctly. The document doesn’t need to even be in English in most states. But, the signer should understand it.

4. Does 123notary have quizzes with yes/no answers
Quick Answer: No!
Commentary: We prefer multiple choice or open ended questions

5. Should I get certified?
Quick Answer: Yes!
Commentary: Notary2Pro has the best teaching. 123notary’s has the highest testing standards. LSS is the most up to date as to the current market conditions. NNA is the most widespread but their graduates do the worst on my test. We like the NNA in most ways, but not in terms of their testing standards.

6. Should I backdate?
Quick Answer: No!

7. Should I read Notary Blogs?
Quick Answer: Yes!
Commentary: Read your state notary manual and take some courses as well.

8. Should I put care into maintaining my notary profile?
Quick Answer: Yes!

9. Should I sell my van and buy an expensive high spot on 123notary?
Quick Answer: Yes!
Commentary: We prefer to wait until you have signed at least 500 loans, have a good notes section and a few reviews or 123notary certification before you invest big bucks in a high placed listing. That way you will be likely to get a good ROI and be happy with our service.

10. Can I notarize a photograph?
Quick Answer: No
Commentary: Notaries notarize signatures on documents. Even if a photo had a signature, there is no document making any type of statement.

A final note — you also cannot notarize your cat unless it is an oral statement of meao!

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April 12, 2021

10 things you need to know as a Signing Agent

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 7:28 am

Most people are confused when they begin their career as a Notary signing agent. They don’t know what they need to learn or do, or how to get clients. Those in the business for many years have the opposite problem. They think they know everything while they know very little — at least when I test them. Here is what I think Notaries should learn and how to learn it.

1. Be a good Notary. What does that entail?
You need to know the rules for each notary act and how to fill out forms. You also need to know how to administer Oaths correctly and few Notaries do this well or take it seriously. You can lose your commission if a judge finds out you didn’t give an Oath on any particular Affidavit, Jurat or sworn statement that you notarized. It is easy to learn how to do this, but few make it their business to know their job. Read your state’s notary manual regularly. You can also read blogs from NNA, 123notary or other Notary agencies. But, your state notary division is gospel, and the agencies are sometimes wrong — so treat their information as commentary. Keeping a journal is also imperative, because when you are in court, and 15% of serious Notaries end up before a judge sooner or later, your journal is your only evidence. The more thoroughly you keep your journal, the happier the judge will be with you. If you identify someone incorrectly or carelessly you might be empowering an imposter to steal a house from someone or commit fraud. We teach all of these points on our blog on Notary Public 101.

Summary of point 1.
Understanding All applicable Notary Acts, Identification procedures, Journal procedure, and Oaths are the bedrock of being a good Notary.

2. Understand The Right to Cancel
Residential owner occupied Refinances typically have a Right to Rescind document. Understanding how to date this document properly is not rocket science, but experienced Notaries flake and goof and get the dates wrong when I test them on a regular basis. It is not rocket sciencem, and no, the NASA website doesn’t cover this, it is a matter of counting to three and not counting Sundays or Federal Holidays.

3. Understand FAQ’s about loan signing.
When is my first payment due?
Where is my rate, APR?
Do I have a prepayment penalty and where is it?
Where are my closing costs and fees itemized?
Do I have to send a check or other documents not included in the package?
How long can I read my borrower’s copies before rescinding
How do I cancel my loan?

Many Notaries feel that they need to be experts at all of the documents. As a general rule, you should know the difference between the Correction Agreement LPOA and a Compliance Agreement, although there are so many variations in these documents that they are all different and you have to read each one — but, being familiar and knowledgeable about these document variations pays off as this is a FAQ that people are concerned about. Most loan signing courses go over this information and you should memorize this as people at signings will ask about it.

4. Understanding Reverse Mortgages, TRID, Helocs, Purchases, etc.
LSS’s course seems to do the best job teaching these types of loans (or documents) that are new in popularity over the last few years. Most signing courses were written ten or twenty years ago when Reverse Mortgages either didn’t exist or were not a popular item. Since as a Notary, you are not allowed to explain the terms of a person’s loan, but only allowed to help signers find information within the loan, it is NOT critical to understand these loans or documents, but make you look good if you did. So consider point four to be a plus, but not a necessity.

5. Explain or don’t explain
In our various blog courses we go over point by point what a Notary should explain or not explain. The 30 point course discusses this in detail. This is critical because otherwise you might get yourself in trouble talking about what you have no business of talking about. Or you might talk about something you know nothing about. Or, you might not answer a question which you should know the answer and express the answer about. Boy, this is complicated.

6. How to find new clients
There are many ways. We write about this in the marketing section of our blog, but you might have to scroll.

7. How to background screen clients
Not all clients are pleasant or pay on time. Use the 123notary or Notary Rotary forum to see which companies are worth working for. Please be informed that in the last two years there has been a drastic decline in forum commentary on our forum and on NotaryRotary’s, although theirs is much more well trafficked than ours. There is less quantity of reliable information about the various signing companies. But, still do your research.

8. How to collect from clients
Some people don’t pay on time, so you have to know how to keep records, how to bill people, and how to threaten them the right way if they keep you waiting for payment. We go over this in our courses.

9. Where to learn about general information
You should read the various blogs out there. NNA and 123notary have interesting blogs where you can learn and source information from antiquated entries on particular topics.

10. How to handle tricky situations
In Notary Public 101 we go over many sticky situations and explain how to think about them and how to handle them. Understanding this content makes you a more confident, trustworthy and safe Notary! It’s like a vaccine made out of knowledge!

Further Reading
As a general rule, I recommend getting certified by various entities, not just one. I recommend Notary Public 101 and the 30 Point Course in our blog as well as reading our blog articles about marketing and notarial issues in particular. LSS offers a very practical course that is more sensitive to what is going on in the industry now. Notary2Pro seems to churn out the best trained Notaries of any certification. 123notary has the hardest certification test and passing it will prove yourself better than the other certifications.

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January 2, 2021

How long do you wait if nobody is home?

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 12:54 pm

If you go to a signing, and nobody is home, how long do you wait? Some people will wait all night while others will leave immediately. Try to take into consideration that there might have been a delay coming back from work or the market. Allowing ten or twenty minutes might make sense. Or you could try to see if your next client of the evening wants to sign early and then circle back afterwards to the original place as you don’t know how long they will keep you.

The best thing to do first is call the signer and see what is up. If they do not call back within ten or fifteen minutes, you can go. But, keep the phone by your side. They usually call the minute you drive off. It is Murphy’s law and it seems to be accurate.

But, on a brighter note, if you are religious about confirming appointments, you would have gone over the times and if they were on a tight schedule they would be likely to reveal that to you during the phone conversation. Yet another reason to be more adamant about confirming signings rather than just showing up.

So, how long you wait depends on what else you have going on. But to be fair, I would wait at least ten minutes and call the signer.

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November 22, 2020

How long does it take to get through a signing?

Filed under: Best Practices — Tags: , — admin @ 11:52 pm

Most Notaries allow around an hour for a signing. But, for a HELOC, Reverse Mortgage, or other longer packages, the timing can be unpredictable.

I did a huge construction loan for someone. I was in and out in 20 minutes with a 180 page package. He was a business professional and knew the drill. He didn’t read. He just signed. There are others who read all day at your expense.

One Notary claimed her average signing is 45 minutes. But, it depends on the lender and the type of package, type of borrower, number of pages, etc. Another Notary on Linked In claimed 45 minutes to an hour. A third Notary claimed 45 minutes as well. A forth Notary kept track of her signings over the course of a year and came up with the figure or 45-75 minutes unless there are multiple signers in which case it might take 15 or more minutes longer.

Older clients (the kind that leave their left blinker on for half an hour in Florida) might need 90 minutes for a signing. They can barely see their pen, so how can they possibly know what they are signing?

Summary
The considerations for how long a package will take to complete should be thought about in this order.

Age
Age determines how long a package will take to complete more than any other factor. Elderly people cannot see well, can’t hold a pen well sometimes, and get very tired. Allow a lot of extra time for Reverse Mortgages, Hospital signings, etc.

Experience
Professional businessmen can get in and out of a signing quickly, unless they make you wait for their busy partner to arrive which might take an additional ninety minutes without waiting time unless you negotiate well.

# of Signers
If you have five signers, you might be there for a while. They will have more bathroom breaks, more showing up late, and if even one doesn’t have proper ID, that throws the whole game off.

# of Pages
A fast signer can get through a long package quickly. But, a “reader” will take forever. The type of sign(er) is more important than the type of sign(ing) as a professional signer can whip through a 300 page loan faster than a nit-picky suspicious “reader” can get through an 80 page signing, especially if they have to call their lender.

Prepared Lender
If the Lender on the loan prepares his borrowers well, the signing will go fast. But, what if you get a Lender who waits until the last minute to fill in the blanks. You will be at the signing over an hour with a Lender like that. I had a best client who never prepared his borrowers well. The money was not bad, but they really took advantage of my time. Most Lenders have a few screws loose, and the Notary is the one who pays for that.

# of Notarizations
I was a fast Notary and could do 11 notarizations for two people = 22 notarizations in less than half an hour. But, it is a lot faster to do one notarization especially if the signer whips out their ID quickly (use a stopwatch for measuring that.)

Ending Joke
Here is a Maine joke for you guys.

TEXAS NOTARY: I once had a signing so big it took me three hours to complete

MAINE NOTARY: A-yup, I once had a printer like that

.

You might also like:

Following directions is more important than you think
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19608

The grace period after your signing
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19465

10 ways female notaries can protect themselves
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19196

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January 30, 2020

Do you hire notaries? What do you ask them?

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 11:36 am

Are you a title company, mortgage broker, loan officer, escrow officer, Attorney or other entity that hires notaries? You can’t just hire any old Notary. You need to ask them questions. But, what would you ask them?

Should you ask questions about how they would handle particular situations? Or should you ask more cut and dry technical questions about notary procedure? How about asking them to describe certain documents?

Many title companies I talk to judge a notary based on the first twenty seconds of interaction. They can tell right away by a person’s tone, demeanor, and style of communication how the discussion is going to go and how the work is going to go.

For me, I prefer to judge people based on multiple layers. Interaction, competency, motivation in maintaining their profile, etc. Only looking at their initial phone demeanor says a lot, but that is not enough to size someone up in my opinion.

If you are hiring Notaries, think carefully about what is important to ask them. What you ask a Notary reveals a lot about what the notary knows, how they think and how cooperative they are about answering questions.

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January 14, 2020

Where do you get your Notary information from?

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 9:29 am

Carmen tells me regularly how Notaries get information from random sources on the internet or from other Notaries who don’t know what they are doing. This is dangerous. You are legally responsible for the notary work you do. If you do your work wrong, you can get in trouble with your notary division or in trouble with the law. Therefore, it makes sense that you get your information from reliable sources.

NNA and 123notary publish a lot of notary information online. We are generally well informed and well intentioned. But, there are instances when our information is out of date, unclear, misinterpreted, or just plain wrong.

Getting information from Facebook groups, or other Notaries is a horrible idea because I test Notaries, and most of them score about 30% on Notary knowledge. If you are getting your information from others who would probably score 30%, how reliable do you believe their information would be?

Get your information from your State Notary Division. They are legally responsible for publishing information regarding your state’s notary laws, procedures, forms, etc. Even getting information by phone from the notary division is risky, because they could tell you anything. Look for what is in writing for the safest results.

And remember, even the best Notary teachers out there are wrong about one or two things. I know this because I test them and they are not always right on certain hard to understand or nit-picky things (such as credible witnesses for example.) I am sometimes wrong about notary issues as well, although my track record is quite good overall.

So, get your information from the source itself because you could get yourself and others in trouble if you don’t. Additionally, many states have horrible handbooks with very incomplete information about certain topics. In that case, you can refer to other more reliable sources like well established notary organizations which might do a good job explaining some of the less understood notary acts such as Oaths!

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December 26, 2019

Scheduling and Rescheduling

We all schedule appointments, but how good are we at it? Things have changed since I was a Notary, but the basics are fundamentally the same. Here are some issues to consider when scheduling.

1. The risk of cancellation
Most Notaries keep information on their clients. A good business knows as much about its clients as possible. If you are a hotel, you should know who wants a newspaper, who likes a single room, who has breakfast and when, and especially who is a trouble maker. That can help the hotel to make decisions about how to conduct its business. If a Notary has clear notes on cancellation rates of clients, who pays late, and who lies about how many pages are involved, that can help you make decisions.

Overbooking or booking solid might not be a good idea if you have reliable clients. But, when I was in business there was a 25% cancellation rate, and that cancellation is when you squeeze in that burger. On the other hand, if you book too solidly and then you hit traffic, your entire night will be set back and you will get complained about.

If you have high paying clients that you don’t want to lose, allow more cushion time before and after appointments. But, for cheap jobs you have to focus on volume and cramming them in makes more sense. But, that is up to you, and if you goof, you might lose clients.

2. Rescheduling techniques
If you reschedule an appointment for a future date, try to avoid scheduling it at a time when you will have conflicting job requests that haven’t come in yet. Remember — you don’t know who will want you to do what or when. But, you can calculate based on what is normal, regular, or likely based on past data of job requests. So, if you are normally busy week nights around 7pm, do your rescheduling earlier or later than that or on the weekend. Remember, that rescheduled jobs sometimes don’t even pay you even if they agree to. If you need to go back to a job for a mistake other than your own, since it is so hard to get paid traditionally for those revisits, it might make sense to get paypal-ed before you set out if you can.

3. Waiting for a call from the LO, Lender or Signing company
Sometimes you can’t reschedule until you get the go ahead. In that case, wait until you get the magic call, and then decide. But, don’t let these guys bully you around. Once again, when you sell your time, you have prime time, shoulder hours and off hours. The type of time you give them should depend on what they are paying you. Don’t sell the filet minon for the price of chuck otherwise you are a chump!

4. Confirming
Don’t forget to call the hiring party, and the signers to confirm the appointment. Make sure that names on the ID match the names on the document, and that the date, time, place, where to park, if they have a table, and that the dollar amounts match up. Most signers don’t do a thorough job confirming, so have a check list of everything you need to ask or could ask that makes sense.

You might also like:

Notary Public 101’s guide to confirming the signing
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19976

Discounts for early booking? Hotels do this, why shouldn’t you?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19072

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December 22, 2018

Do you take control at a signing?

Filed under: Best Practices — admin @ 12:43 pm

Many Notaries just get kicked around in this business. They don’t bother to learn their technical information or document information. But, more important, they don’t know how to manage a signing. I just talked to someone in title. He doesn’t care if you are certified or know a lot. He wants someone who will make sure the signing gets finished and documents sent back fast.

So, if the Lender asks you to start the signing at page four, and the borrower doesn’t want to do this, how do you react? Most Notaries will be wishy washy and try to explain why they should start at page four. This invites a debate, insubordinance, and perhaps a no sign. Carmen’s advice is to just place page four in front of them. Have them read it and sign it. Keep the other docs on your side of the table under your control. If the signer protests, inform them that this is what you were asked to do. This is called following directions and maintaining control.

Getting the job done on time means confirming the signing thoroughly, introducing yourself, introducing the documents and staying in control in a polite way.

Some Notaries even dictate who is going to sit where. This can be for the Notary’s safety, or to facility the fast signing of documents especially if you have a husband and wife – they can sit next to each other on the long side of the table to do an assembly line signing of a long package and get it done in minutes.

Those Notaries who let the signing just happen will not do well in this industry. Learn to be polite and firm and take control — and get the job done.

.

You might also like:

Following directions is more important than you think.
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19608

Following directions, what’s the big deal?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=19600

Following directions in the 30 point course
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=14379

Elite Certification will benefit you for the rest of your life
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=20770

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