123notary behind the scenes
All of you know what 123notary Notary Directory looks like on the surface, and you know what some of the rules are, and if the site works for you or not. But, have you ever wondered how 123notary is run? We are not a typical company to say the least. I have read books about Starbucks and how they do it, and Cliffbar as well. Their stories are unique and interesting. But, 123notary’s story is interesting too!
When we started
123notary started as a Notary Directory in 1999 on a shoestring in the ashes of the .net bust. It was my idea after seeing how the NNA’s signing agent directory was not always easy to use. I noticed that if you needed a notary in a particular county, that if nobody was in that county and you didn’t know the names of neighboring counties, you would not be able to use their site without an atlas to find out what the neighboring counties names were. Few of us carry a nationwide atlas with us. So, I wanted to start a directory with more features than the other guys. Also, I needed a way to market my own personal notary services as yellow pages were really expensive.
You can read about our growth in other blog entries and our about us page. We started as a California only directory, and then slowly spread out into other states. But, one of our notaries pointed out, that we should tell everyone how 123notary is run NOW.
How were we run in previous years?
I started out doing everything myself. My father helped with programming our Notary Directory back in 2001, but then we hired a local programming house to handle the programming after that. Business was very slow until 2003 when overnight in March, things just started to take off. Revenue multiplied by ten, and the phone was ringing off the hook. I found that working 12 hours a day was crazy and I couldn’t handle it for long. A lady named Carmen bought a course from me and kept calling asking me questions about loan signing. We spent a lot of time talking. I found that she was so smart and people saavy, that I wanted to hire her. She was very resistant at first, but I talked her into it. She was very busy doing signings for several years, and didn’t go full time with us until 2006. I started taking it easy in 2006 and 2007 because I was exhausted from all of the hard work. I wanted to meditate more and do more hiking. Then, in 2008, I started to work on optimization. I worked very hard, and through good strategy and hard work, brought a lot more traffic to the site.
How are we run now?
Most companies have an office and are centralized. 123notary has no office and no employees. I work at home on my computer and my cell phone. I don’t even have a landline because our building has some problems with the phone lines getting scrambled, and they couldn’t fix my line. Carmen is a subcontractor paid on commission and works from her home roughly 4 miles from me. Additionally, I travel quite a bit, and do a lot of my work on the road from Northern California. I sometimes go overseas and have been to Europe and India where I did my work at internet cafes.
Who does what?
Carmen is the person people are more familiar with, because she is in the front lines. Carmen does incoming phones and answers everyone’s questions. I do most of the emails and outgoing phone calls myself. But, there are more people involved in 123notary’s functionality that we can not ignore. There are programmers. We have a team in Los Angeles, and another team in India. Additionally, we have a company in El Monte who is helping us with social media including Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, and Blogging which really helps keep search traffic coming in so you guys can get work. Once in a while I hire someone to do outgoing phone calls for welcome calls and update calls as well.
Where are our servers? — one person asked. We have a server at a programmer’s office in El Monte, with a backup server in Dallas, TX in a data center. It would take a tsumani, earthquake, and WW3 all combined to take our servers down. There is a lady in downtown Los Angeles who helps us a little bit with artwork. Communication is hard, as I only know 30 words in Korean, and she only knows 30 words in English — but, we work well as a team because she is so talented and efficient!
What is a typical day like for Carmen?
For Carmen, she answers the phone all day long, sends passwords, and takes orders. It is pretty much the same every day, but at the end of the month, there are far more phone calls and it gets crazy. Carmen gets about 25 calls a day on regular days, but at the end of the month it could be double easily.
What is a typical day like for Jeremy?
For me, I answer emails first, then process orders and mark people as renewed who paid their bills. I do a small email blast every day or two to tell people about what is going on in our blog, or a reminder to update or renew. Additionally, I write tons of blog entries, and do phone calls to people who are renewing soon. I have to supervise programmers in America and in India, so that can be time consuming and frustrating if they don’t understand my complicated instructions. Additionally, I write for our Facebook campaign and Twitter too. I have to come up with strategies for optimizing and detailed plans for modifying programming. There are many internal formulas in 123notary that help us to know which notaries have better stats, and that takes a lot of thinking to plan. I typically will work seven days a week for a few weeks, and then take a week off in the mountains. I find Los Angeles to be too stressful for me, so I need fresh air, streams and mountains to bring me back to my inner rhythm.