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June 8, 2017

Meritocracy, the enemy of mediocrity

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 8:37 am

123notary is a meritocracy. The Notaries who do their homework, have vast experience, get the certifications they need, get background screened, and get reviews get exponentially more business.

123notary puts several hundred new Notaries on our site each month. The problem is that those new Notaries rarely have much experience, and won’t spend much time writing a good notes section. These new Notaries don’t need to study more because they already know it all. But, they won’t do well on 123notary unless they put a little more into it.

Unfortunately, 75% of the Notaries on our site have settled for mediocrity. They refuse to pass our test. Many of them have tried multiple times and just can’t. This is your profession. To study a few hours to take a simple quiz is easy stuff. It won’t kill you. The fact that you can’t get through it means you lack study discipline.

To earn merit on 123notary isn’t that hard. You don’t have to go through law school. You don’t have to serve in the military and come back with PTSD. You just study a little, and write a few paragraphs, not to mention get your beloved clients to write reviews about you.

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May 31, 2017

Are Signing Agents more than babysitters with stamps?

Filed under: General Articles — Tags: — admin @ 9:49 pm

The world doesn’t seem to respect Notaries or Signing Agents. We are just a formality, and a lowly paid worker who can be kept waiting, neglected, or in some cases not paid. Many Notaries who do loan signings go to the signing only to be kept waiting forever while the borrower reads every page and makes long calls to the Lender.

It is the Lender’s fault that borrowers don’t get the documents until the last minute. Borrowers could read the documents and find questions and errors ahead of time if they had 48 hours notice before the Notary shows up. If we lived in an ideal world, borrowers would be able to see their documents online and check them for issues. The Notary always arrives with a limited time frame and the borrower has to get through a package of 80 to 150 pages in an hour or so. They have never seen the documents and are under a lot of stress. It seems like a big con game where the Notary is the one whose feelings are not considered.

It is our job to babysit people while they read documents? What a waste of our time. If our signing agent profession was taken seriously, we wouldn’t be kept waiting while people read documents. Are $400 per hour Attorneys kept hostage while their client reads their briefs? Perhaps reading with a question and answer session, but not endless waiting time.

The basic problem is that it is too easy to become a Signing Agent, and therefor there are too many people doing it — and mostly people who don’t know what they are doing. That is why we are taken for granted and paid $50 while the Notary fee on the Closing Disclosure says $400. SnapDocs probably makes $15 on it too, which is 30% of what the Notary makes. What is the world coming to?

Just make sure the borrowers get to bed on time, and if there is an emergency, the numbers for the police, fire department and poison control are next to the phone taped to the wall. Oh, and feel free to have orange juice — it’s in the fridge!

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May 17, 2017

How much pay do you merit as a signing agent?

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 10:26 pm

Notaries are on the boards all day long complaining about low-paying signing companies, not getting paid, and fax backs. These are legitimate complaints. My complaint is that most Notaries are so anti-education that they don’t want to pay for our loan signing course, but won’t even study from the materials if they are free! We have lots of free educational materials on our blog that very few people read. So, my question is, how much pay do you merit?

Too many signing agents = low pay
Being a signing agent doesn’t cost much. It is an easy profession to get into. You don’t need to be a citizen, and you don’t need a college degree or even a high-school degree although that would help. You just need to be a resident of your state or in some cases a resident of a neighboring state who doesn’t have a felony conviction. Most states don’t even have a Notary exam. In my opinion there are too many signing agents simply because it is too easy to get into this line of work. If it were harder to get in, those inside would get paid more.

The majority of signing agents aren’t trained well
You don’t need to be an expert to be good as a signing agent. But, you do need to know your basics. Most Notaries do not know signing agent principles, don’t know their documents that well and don’t even understand the basics of Notary law and identifying signers. I don’t see too many Notaries brushing up on their Notary knowledge either. There are a few Notaries who take being at the top of their game seriously, who know their stuff and who are always reading or studying. In my opinion those are the ones who merit high pay, not the rest of the Notaries.

So, what do Notaries merit being paid?

NNA Certified
Only 20% of NNA Certified signers can pass the 123notary exam. So, passing their test doesn’t prove anything to me.

Not 123notary Certified
$50 per signing
$70 with eDocuments
Fax backs are not a bad idea, because an untrained Notary will undoubtedly screw up costing the borrower and lender thousands if they don’t make sure everything got signed correctly. Additionally, since 75-90% of the signing agents in the industry haven’t or can’t pass our certification exam, that constitutes a huge excess of Notaries in the market who have poor skills and therefore do not merit much pay. If the supply of untrained Notaries in proportion to the total were less, then they were merit more due to the rules of supply and demand.

123notary Certified
$80 for a signing
$105 with eDocuments
123notary certified signers represent 25% of the Notaries on 123notary and perhaps only 10% of the Notaries who advertise online in total. Since you are higher skills and there are fewer of you out there, you merit more pay and the time you invest in eDocuments is worth more as well.

Notary2Pro Certified
Notary2Pro’s certification is excellent and we usually recognize it. Since they specialize in training Notaries, they put a little extra care into the whole educational process than other agencies.

123notary Elite Certified
$100+ for a signing
$125-$150 for a signing with eDocuments
Only 2% to 3% of 123notary members are Elite Certified. They represent the cream of the crop in terms of knowledge and study habits. They took a very complicated course from us and passed a demanding exam. Unfortunately, since many companies have developed an assembly line system for dealing with inexperienced signers, the demand for seasoned pros is lower these days. However, for those people who want the best, the best are worth paying for.

What do 123notary signers make in real life?
Putting aside what I feel people should make, a recent poll of our signing agents revealed some interesting information. The respondents to the poll were mostly experienced, so the information they gave me does not represent what beginners are making.

Beginners — $60 to $90 per signing
Not 123notary Certified — $100 average per signing (edocs or not)
123notary Certified — $108 average per signing
123notary Elite Certified — $114 average per signing

Other Factors
How much you make as a signer depends on your connections and how well you present yourself. Notary education represents a big part of how much you get paid. But, how good your communication and business skills are represent an even bigger part. It is hard to put a finger on what good business skills are. But, answering your phone, dressing well, negotiating well, showing up on time and making sure your work gets done correctly are components of basic business skills. Sometimes people with a Real Estate or business background do better in this business than others. Having reviews on your profile, a great notes section, and a company name help your presentation a lot as well.

To sum it up, I cannot say what your work is intrinsically worth. But, if you haven’t proven yourself educationally, have no reviews, refuse to crack a book, and then complain all day about how low your pay is, perhaps you should think about improving yourself so that you merit more pay a few months down the road!

You might also like:

Minimum Wage for Signing Agents
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16276

A Notary Union — how would that work?
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=18878

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April 3, 2017

How do you create a seamless Notary experience?

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 7:10 am

These days, customer service is never that great. If you call your bank, you talk to a robot for a long time pressing three because your credit card has been turned off and then two because you did not pay your bill and then four because of some other reason. They are there to give you the run around and then put you on hold to talk to someone in India who you can’t even understand.

Most Notaries as a lot better than that. But, how many customers could claim that they had a seamless experience with your notary service? What are the components of a seamless experience?

1. The initial phone call
Good: You said, “Hi, this is Marcy” instead of “Hello.” You were polite, friendly and answered all of the questions the way they were asked without trying to boast.
Bad: You didn’t answer the phone the first time. The second time there was a baby screaming in the background. You answered saying, “Hello” instead of stating your name. You answered all of the questions in a round about way while rolling your eyes.

Also read: Answering questions the way they were asked:

Answering questions the way they were asked

2. Negotiating
Good: You asked for a reasonable rate — not too expensive and not too cheap, just right. You based your rate on time and distance and explained your rates fully including any potential extra charges.
Bad: You asked for too much money and complained about how there might be fax backs or other snags.

3. Confirming
You confirmed the signing an hour or two before you were due to let them know you were coming and to make sure they were going to be there.

4. Dress
You dress professionally. Business casual is fine: Formal shoes, long pants, tie optional, dress jacket a plus. Your hair should look good, your tattoo of skeletons should be hidden, and you should smell good.

5. Arriving
You arrive on time, park on the road (not the driveway) and announce yourself at the door? You find a nice place for you all to sit down and put the documents nicely on the table. You explain how the signing process is going to be managed and then you start signing.

6. Signing
You answer all questions about the documents that you are legally allowed to and refer all other questions to the Lender whose phone number is in your list of phone numbers which includes Title, The Lender, The Signing Company, etc. You don’t talk about politics, religion, or make inappropriate jokes or statements at the signing. You could also offer to answer any Notary questions or do an extra notarization at no cost just to be nice.

7. After
You confirm with the Lender or whomever hired you that the signing is done. You deliver the documents to a staffed Fedex or UPS station and drop them off as promptly as possible. If allowed, you might consider getting the signer’s email address so you can email them an invitation to write you a review.

A seamless experience means that it was good from start to finish with no problems, snags or headaches in the process. Most Notaries are not perfect. So, if you can provide the perfect service almost every time, you might get lots of reviews.

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February 22, 2017

Notary study skills are poor. But, raising rates would attract better blood

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 7:27 am

The Notary industry needs new blood. But, people who are good at school normally have better options unless they want to slow down and enjoy a life with more freedom. The fact is that only 25% of our Notaries on board have passed our very easy certification test which only involves a few hours of study.

People who are Notaries today do not have the best study skills and do not realize how critical their tasks are. The Secretary of State Notary Divisions also don’t get it. To attract professional people, you need to offer higher rates, and perhaps higher minimum rates. You need to prevent sloppy people from getting into this industry to begin with. 123notary’s Elite Certified members are more studious as a bunch, but they represent only 2.5% of the total. California just raised its maximum rate for an Acknowledged signature to $15, but there is no minimum which makes it possible to get a Notary to work for peanuts as there are several hundred thousand others who can do the same job.

I am normally against the idea of minimum wage. But, there is so much exploitation and sloppy service in this business that I believe the solution is to put more money on the table and attract a better crowd. I can’t guarantee that paying more would attract more people. It might attract the worst quality Attorneys out there who can’t make a living doing Attorney work. Some of them answer Notary and signing questions so poorly that the average Non-Attorney notary could out-do them without even trying.

Maybe it would be better to have a minimum wage as an experiment to see if a higher quantity of more educated people would sign up, especially if the industry players decided to have higher standards. On the other hand, it might require fees of up to $300 per signing to attract motivated people rather than desperate people. I guess we’ll never find out!

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January 11, 2017

Interest rates went up 1/4% and will go up twice more.

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 8:14 am

As of Dec 14th, 2016 Interest rates went up a quarter of a percent. Business is already bad for Notaries and Trump is making it worst by giving Americans the idea that he will make America great again. That means that businesses will be borrowing more and rates will go up. That translates into less Refinances. But, it will get worse twice more in 2017. We might not see fast business for another few years if Trump is successful.

The Notary business does well when others do poorly. When everyone is unemployed and looking for work, more people become Notaries. On the other hand, when things are good and people see a Notary doing a signing at their house, they want to become a Notary too. When the economy is good and interest rates rise, the Notary business does poorly. But, when the economy is bad, then interest rates fall and people can afford a refinance.

On a brighter note, if the economy picks up, then home values will go shooting up and people will have more equity to borrow on.

I remember one New Yorker comic strip where the client is at a marina with his broker looking at the broker’s yacht and asks where his clients’ yachts are. I wonder when we will see the day when Notaries have yachts. Not in 2017, although I might be pleasantly wrong.

I do not try to put much faith in my ability to predict the future. The fact remains that our industry has its ups and downs and you have to be prepared for whatever the market does. This means making sure you are at the top of your game at all times, having multiple certifications, reviews, etc.

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December 31, 2016

Industry slow on all sites

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 1:35 am

I checked web stats in September and October. I thought that 123notary was going downhill. But, our competitors are also going downhill. Everybody’s stats were down about 15-20% in September and October. Then, during the holidays it is normally slow. I’m just hoping that we have a good next year. But, my stock broker told me that interest rates are probably going up based on the rumors that he is hearing.

If interest rates go up, that means less refinances. On the other hand, if rates go up, then if they come down, you will get a rush of refinances all at once which will keep you busy. In the last few years, Notaries have had to do more reverse mortgages and purchases as there are less refinances to go around.

Let’s hope that 2017 is a better year as 2016 was sluggish for 123notary. On a brighter note, all of the new reviews that Notaries are getting is going to have a very positive effect on the popularity of the site, so there is hope!

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December 8, 2016

Breaking news…fee increase for California Notary Publics

It has been a long time coming but fees have finally been increased to 15.00 per notarization, per person and other official acts performed by California Notary Public’s. Effective 1/1/2017. It has been in the works for years but finally has came to fruition. I have attached the Assembly bill for review.

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB2217

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December 3, 2016

A Notary Union — how would that work?

One Notary wanted a Notary Union. But, would a union help? What would happen? He wanted rates fixed at $150 per signing. It’s not legal to fix rates and $150 is too high.

Contracts
Signing companies would have to sign a contract with the union if they wanted to get some of the better veteran signing agents. Most or many veterans would join the union. The companies that hired union Notaries would only be able to hire union Notaries, and with a long term contract at ridiculous prices. Meanwhile the non-union signing companies would be able to hire anyone who wasn’t a union Notary. The problem here is that Title companies are only willing to pay so much. And if the union had a meeting where they were going to raise their rate to $160 per signing, they would virtually put the signing company out of business.

This is similar to what happened with car manufacturers and manufacturing in the Midwest which moved permanently to China leaving the union guys without a job at all. Unions helped certain Midwesterners and people in other parts of the country make extra money for about two or three decades by artificially controlling market conditions — and then the mother companies discovered a place called Asia and the party was over which led to mass unemployment.

Union Fees
Notaries would have to pay union fees, and go to union meetings. Very few Notaries make it to the NNA annual conference, so how will they make it to meetings? Notaries have so little money already, how will they pay fees? Most are not even full-time?

Corruption
Unions basically give privelege to a few of the workers, but do not help workers as a whole. In Boston in the 1980’s, certain more established classes of workers gained privelege to union jobs while Blacks and Puerto Ricans were generally left out until affirmative action became more prevelant. There is also a lot of power politics going in within unions for control. To me, unions are mafia-like power grabbing organizations which force companies to pay an elite group of workers above market level wages. This leaves those without social favor out of the picture and bankrupts companies in the long run. In the long run unions lead to unemployment, unfairness and misery.

The Solution
So, what is the solution to unfair wages? Markets! Fair and open markets solve all wage related problems. With open markets you get paid what you are worth. The problems the Notaries are facing these days is that there are lots of unskilled people who can do Notary work. They might not do a good job, but they can function with guidance. The skills of highly skilled Notaries are no longer valued like in the old days, and that is why the market hires too many unskilled Notaries and doesn’t pay the worthwhile Notaries enough — at least until signing companies come to their senses.

The Cause of the Problem
Part of the reason this is the case is because there are SO FEW highly skilled and reliable Notaries, that you can’t base your business model on only hiring the best. You might get a few “best” notaries, and the rest will be slouches! That is not a consistent business model. Most Notaries on 123notary just don’t know their documents, don’t know what information is where, and don’t know what to do if there is trouble. Most of our Notaries make a lot of claims of how good they are, but really only 250 Elite Certified Notaries on 123notary are hot stuff in my opinion. Those ultra-experienced and highly educated stampers are worth $150 per signing in most cases. The “regular” 123notary certified Notaries are worth about $100 per signing (in my opinion) and the un-123notary certified Notaries are worth $50. If you don’t know anything and have hardly any experience, why should you be paid much more than minimum wage?

My issue is NOT that Notaries are not paid a decent wage. My issue is that the 250 Elite Certified Notaries on our site who merit a better wage are not usually getting it. As for the uncertified majority, the fact that you get work at all is a miracle. I personally would not hire someone who couldn’t pass my test. My test doesn’t guarantee that you are a great Notary — however, it determines that you are at least worth trying and have potential and know your basics.

If it were up to me, anyone who didn’t pass our elite test wouldn’t be allowed to do any signing agent work. After all, this is a serious profession where you routinely handle half million dollar loans. Why hire someone who is any less than highly qualified for such critical work?

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November 27, 2016

The Notary and the Paypal Hold

Filed under: General Articles,Popular on Facebook (A little),Popular on Linked In — Tags: — admin @ 11:13 pm

Most of our customers make orders using 123epayment.com or talk to Carmen. Whenever people order through Carmen, we never have trouble with those orders. Carmen talks people through the transactions and tell them every detail about what they need to be aware about. The problem is when people order from Paypal.

We have been accepting Paypal transactions for over ten years now. Most transactions go through just fine. But, there are issues that pop up every month or two.

1. Vacation — If I’m on vacation and a stranger orders a course via Paypal, I will only be informed if I check my email. When I’m on vacation, I check my orders at 123epayment.com at least once in four days. But, I sometimes don’t go into my gmail for security reasons. I don’t want to get hacked by using a public computer. Sometimes people will create a claim or a dispute on their Paypal order because I am behind schedule processing their transaction.

2. Missing information — Most people who order from Paypal have a company name on the transaction and not a personal name. I look people up in my system by personal names. I can often track the email to their account, but not always if they use a different email. I often have to ask people what they purchased and what their n# is. Paypal has a NOTES section where you can write who you are, what you purchased, the name of the ecourse, the level of the position, etc. Most people choose not to inform me and make me guess or ask what they purchased. If everybody did this we would have to rename them PayNpal as they would be a Payn in the butt to use as a result of their clients (Not Paypal’s fault.)

3. Immediate Response Required — Somebody ordered a renewal from me on Paypal. I processed the renewal right away. The next day they sent me an email. I took more than 24 hours to respond to the email, so they filed a hold on the Paypal transaction. What a pain! I told the person that I answer emails daily, but I don’t sit 24 hours a day by my email in case someone emails me. I have many tasks to do, and their task is not the only task I have to do all day. Some customers think they are the only customer in the world. I take care of people as fast as I can, but conflicting tasks and limited time makes it hard. Even when I’m in town, I do not answer all emails within 24 hours, only most.

4. Not asking questions first — Some people buy something when they don’t know what they are buying. They also don’t tell me in the Paypal notes what they are buying. This results in a long email discussion going back and forth creating a long string. It is easier if people just talk to Carmen before buying something. She is an expert and can help.

Summary
The bottom line is — if you order from us via Paypal, we prefer that you are an existing customer. It is better that you are renewing something existing rather than doing a new purchase. It is excellent if you source your n#, name, and level of listing that you are renewing or the name of the ecourse. That way I know what you are getting and we have it in writing the first time. Also, it is better if you email me and ask for instructions for what to put in the Paypal transaction. That way we get it right the first time.

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