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July 16, 2021

Our quiz email — how it started, where it is going

Filed under: Business Tips — admin @ 3:30 am

123notary has always done quality control on its members. Some people don’t like that, but the people who use the site do. We keep track of who gets clicks, who edits their notes, who answers their phone, and who has difficult communication skills of which there are many. On the other hand we have some real personalities who are very professional too.

People who answer my emails are much more likely to get good reviews, and people who ignore my emails are very likely to get bad reviews. So, I use my quiz email not only as a way to assess how you handle tough situations, but if you answer emails in a punctual way or at all.

The quiz email asks Notary questions, but also questions about how to handle situations where things go wrong, or where people don’t return calls. It can get complicated and the answers are complicated too. Sometimes all the answers look right, but there is only one that I will accept.

After I looked at my quiz, I wanted to try to improve it. I tried to think of what I could do better. After an hour of thought I decided that the questions were good, but the answers needed a little refinement. Some of the answers were too tricky or misleading. So, I edited the answers a little. To some questions I removed some of the possible answers to focus on the main question and not whether you read the question carefully enough which is an entirely different skill set. And then on other questions I added answers to see if you knew your stuff or if you were guessing.

Unfortunately, the average score on my quiz is 30%, so for free people I am forced to accept a 20% to keep you only. It is kind of pathetic, but most people don’t even answer the quiz. Only 1 in 5 people answer the quiz email. If I send it out twice, I might get 35%, but that is still not good.

If you are in a quiz mood and want to take my quiz, assuming you have not taken it already, you are welcomed to email me.

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July 12, 2021

1 Million E&O is common as of Dec, 2020

Filed under: Business Tips — admin @ 3:17 am

Every week I do my welcome calls to some of the new Notaries. I no longer have time to call them all, but I call many. More and more are getting 1 Million Errors & Omissions or 2 Million in E&O Insurance. It is a shock to my system.

I joked that one day there would be a 6 million dollar Notary that would be called — The Bionic Notary would could notarize twenty documents in three minutes flat including journal signatures and then jump over fences.

It is a lot less expensive to get high E&O limits these days and that is why it has become more popular. So, I might suggest upping your E&O if you have signed at least 1000 loans so the title companies will consider you more.

Just wanted to share the news.

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July 4, 2021

Kaizen – constant improvement applied to the Notary profession

Filed under: Business Tips — admin @ 3:09 am

Toyota uses this Japanese concept of Kaizen. That means that you are constantly trying to improve yourself and how you do things. I am always trying to improve myself too. This is how we attain mastery.

As Notaries, what happens is that the new people tend to be very motivated, pass a bunch of tests, get background screened, get a million in Errors and Omissions, and try hard to do well.

The problem is that once people are in the door, they tend to stop trying as hard. I think that constantly reading up and trying to master Notary principles, sharpening up your marketing techniques and passing new certifications is a good thing. If you want maximum market share, you have to make a list of things you can do that you are not already doing — or, a list of things that you could try to do better.

Always making your notes section better every two or three months is another critical thing to do. Always asking people who like you for reviews is essential as well.

The most critical thing that motivated Notaries do is to email me and ask for tips. I remember the last Notary in Texas who asked me for tips. She was ALREADY doing a bang up job as far as I am concerned. She had a good notes section, reviews, and was getting experience. She had a good personality as well. She needed to get certified by us and a few other agencies for best results to impress people. But, she had a boring business name. So, I told her that a business name that has a feel to it would help. I made some suggestions of names that will have a warm and fuzzy effect on people. We’ll see what she does with the tips. The main thing is that she asked for tips, and she is always trying to improve herself.

The other thing you could do to improve yourself is to learn Japanese and visit the original Toyota manufacturing plant in Japan — and one more thing — don’t forget to bow, very important.

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May 13, 2021

Video from Mark Wills – how to do a loan signing

Filed under: Business Tips — admin @ 12:22 pm

Mark from Loan Signing Systems (LSS) does a thorough job on this one. Clear and detailed. He goes over all of the nitpicky fees and specifications too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1kwzjeD_T0

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April 22, 2021

Commentary on NNA’s post about accepting tips

Filed under: Business Tips — admin @ 8:26 am

In the NNA blog, they published a very nicely written document about whether or not it is ethical to accept tips as a Notary Public. The law seems to omit covering this point.

An improper influence?
NNA’s position (I can see them asking me to not mention them in my blogs within hours of when this is published, but here goes) is that you should NOT accept tips as it could be seen as an improper influence.

Here is my commentary

In-house services
If you are providing in-house Notary services, there is a state maximum for which you can charge. In california it is $15 for an Acknowledgment or Jurat. You cannot ask for more than that. If someone gives you a gift of an extra tip, it seems a little questionable to me. On the one hand you are in the clear in certain ways since you did not ask for that extra money. On the other hand, you violated the maximum fee in a sense. In this situation, I agree with the NNA that it would be better not to accept a tip.

Mobile services (not called out-house unless you really need to go.)
If you are providing mobile notary services and your state doesn’t have any Marxist restrictions on your liberty to determine your own pricing, in my opinion, the customer can offer you any type of tip they like. You are not restricted in any way as there is no price fixing for mobile work in most states (there are nine states or so that do have restrictions.)

Any small tip could be construed as an influence, one perhaps for more favorable scheduling and service next time around. However, it doesn’t seem credible as a bribe to be coerced into doing something illegal or unethical like backdating or falsifying someone’s identity. Bribes for those types of illegal services would be in the tens of thousands and not an extra $5. An extra $10 is an innocent way of saying thank you and we value you, not a bribe.

One of the greatest joys as a mobile notary is to get one of those wealthy, generous and charismatic clients who is flamboyant in the praises and gifts that they give you. If you are a Notary who makes their life easy and pleasant, you deserve those gifts in my opinion. Notaries have been given gift certificates, movie passes, boxes of chocolates, and more. As an in-house Notary, it is slightly questionable and “safer” as the NNA claims not to accept this gift. But, it is not illegal to accept a gift from someone and you might offend them or hurt their feelings if you don’t.

So, I respectfully agree, while disagreeing with the NNA on this issue, but I do respect their correct idea that it is “safer” not to accept gifts. It’s also safer for a ship never to leave the harbor, but then what good is it being a ship if you just sit there collecting barnacles?

Here is the original post and it’s interesting
https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2019/11/should-notaries-accept-tips-and-gratuities?utm_campaign=bulletin20201207&utm_medium=sociall&utm_source=facebook&utm_content=AcceptingTips&fbclid=IwAR33D11k5wLBj4_3GdrAdGGfhPmJZI8xO0NanYQFKE9M_IZ3wL7XpXTkhJI

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April 20, 2021

Last minute notary questions? Who do you call?

Filed under: Business Tips — admin @ 8:13 am

I have to keep reading online to see what is going on in the industry. When I was a Notary (young man) the NNA had a great hotline. I am not sure if they kept it continuously, but they still have it now.

They are great at answering state specific technical questions and train their staff well. Go to the NNA’s website and find out what their number is. Additionally, NNA is a great place to buy E&O Insurance, stamps, bonds, journals (my favorite source) and certificate pads. Yes, it is one stop shopping.

So, now you know who to call, and it is not Ghostbusters. It’s the NNA hotline!

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March 22, 2021

Answering emails correlates with positive reviews

Filed under: Business Tips — admin @ 4:56 am

I did some analysis about who does well on our site and who gets positive reviews vs. negative reviews. Basically, many factors could be considered predictors for who will get good or bad reviews. How often you login to your listing, how well you score on tests, and even how professionally you answer the phone by stating your name rather than saying, “hello” with your kids screaming in the background.

But, the most critical factor is one I never would have imagined to be true. We only started keeping track of who answers emails punctually a few years ago. And I never studied the results to see how it correlated with other information. A few months ago I did exactly that. I studied people who answered my emails vs. those that did not.

If you fail my quiz, but answered the email, you will do better in real life than those who did well on my quiz or test, but did not answer my emails. We send emails with quiz questions, and emails asking for information omitted from your listing such as information about certifications, insurance, types of loans signed, etc.

Those with positive reviews almost always answer my emails. Those with negative reviews almost always ignore my emails.

So, the question now is — how highly should I weigh the email answering data? How many points should that deserve in the database? I decided that the first offense will result in a tiny deduction of points, but if you keep it up, then you will lose a lot of points. Free listings who ignore us generally get permanently removed on the second offense although it varies.

Sending emails and tracking the results is time consuming. I have to create a record in the system which takes a minute. Then I have to send an email and then modify the record to indicate the date of the email, and the nature of the email. Doing this for 300 people a month takes 700 grueling minutes which is about 12 hours. You can imagine how tired I get. And then I learn that 80% of the emails were unanswered. I often remove free listings who ignore my emails because that means I have to call them to extract information from them which is very time consuming.

So, now you get some insight about life at 123notary. Additionally, people who want to hire you cannot hire you if you don’t respond promptly to emails. It is unprofessional and leaves people high and dry.

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February 20, 2021

How dangerous is it to be a mobile notary?

Filed under: Business Tips — admin @ 4:14 am

How dangerous is it to be a mobile notary? We have written other blog articles on the topic. The answer is — not very dangerous. But, there are some dangers and the trick is to know how to safeguard yourself.

1. Neighborhoods
If you go to a bad area at night, that is mildly dangerous. You are more likely to get hit by a truck than have a problem in a bad neighborhood, but you know how people feel. Speaking of which, I actually got bumped by an 18 wheeler. No damage was done because the angels were protecting me — thanks angels! It was on a highway in stop and go traffic. I was stopped, but he took his foot off the brakes as he was daydreaming and bumped me at half a mile per hour.

2. Crazy people
The only serious issue we had with a notary was the one who was pushed down a short flight of stairs because the borrower didn’t like his APR. That was one Notary out of 65,000 we have listed in our history. So, the risk level is low, unless… someone doesn’t like their APR. Go over the stats by phone before you get to the signing. Also, if at a signing, make sure you either know your escape route, or make sure you are bigger than the other people there — or both.

3. Animals
You are more in danger from animals. Humans who can’t behave are already generally in prison. But, someone could have a crazy pet who bites you or chews on your clothing, or pees on your leg. It it happened to you, it would not be the first time. There was another story about a pit bull running wild in a neighborhood and a borrower came out of his house with his gun drawn when the notary came. He had to explain what happened to the notary who was going to protect himself by brandishing his embossing seal.

4. Accidents
Accidents are a fact of life, flat tires, breakdowns. People can die in accidents. We haven’t had any notaries die of accidents or anything other than cancer or old age, but it could happen.

5. Court Cases
Notaries don’t discuss this much on forums, but 1 in 7 long term notaries who is active has had to appear before a judge because of a notarization they did. There were two notaries in Oklahoma who lost their commission because they failed to administer an obligatory Oath to their clients for an Affidavit they notarized. They are lucky they didn’t get locked up. One notary in Sacramento committed identity fraud and got locked up. In total we have had two criminal Notaries who engaged in purposeful fraud and got locked up. Two out of 65,000 is not that bad, not to mention another who allegedly stole OxyCodene from a signer and was not arrested.

6. Covid19
No Notary has died of Covid19, or even gotten sick on the job as far as we know. They went overboard taking ridiculously over-kill type precautions that ruin the fun of notarizing. Many notarized outside or wearing suffocation inducing N-95 masks to be “safe.” How safe are you being if you can’t breathe? Others sat 10 feet away from the others or did notarizations on their trunk or in their car. Such insanity is just plain insane, but nobody got sick to our knowledge. In fact, only a handful of Notaries reported having been sick with Covid19 to us and they got better after a few weeks and didn’t have any serious symptoms other than losing their sense of taste. In those interior states, the food is so bland that losing your sense of taste won’t affect you that much.

7. Notaritus
I just made up this disease, it is not as bad as “Stamp Elbow” but is the next worst thing. It is an infectious disease that only Notaries get. I’m not sure what the symptoms are as this is an imaginary disease. I’ll think about it.

8. Getting sued for using someone’s business name
This almost happened to a client. But, the person who trademarked the name came after my server company which created a huge headache. I have no problem removing a business name from our site, but do you have to call in the national guard over such a small issue?

SUMMARY
So, what is the most dangerous of all the things that can happen to a Notary? I would say that the legal risks are a huge risk. Although if you are very cautious about how you do your work and avoid hospital signings you will lower your risk. Crazy people would be next as we have a serious injury recorded. I would then say that animals are the next most dangerous although they normally don’t kill you. Many Notaries feel “safe” because they are wearing an N-95 mask, but that only protects you 50% from a disease that hasn’t killed any Notaries known to us so far. But, it will not make you safe from court cases, animals, or crazy humans. So, let’s focus on real dangers and not ones that you have been brainwashed into believing are the only threats to your existence.

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February 16, 2021

1 Million E&O vs. 25,000. How does that affect your popularity?

Filed under: Business Tips — admin @ 4:08 am

I analyzed click averages of many listings and found that if you have a lot of Errors and Omissions insurance, that will raise your click average. I only analyzed a few dozen listings, but found that those with 100K get about 5% more clicks than those with 25K E&O, and those with 1 Million get more, but there were too few to analyze and give a clear assessment of what the improvement was.

Some of the big title companies want a lot of insurance, but what they want is different from company to company and changes over time. It is kind of like me trying to explain to you what a cumulous cloud looks like in my area. By the time I describe it to you, it will have morphed again.

E&O is not really important, and is more of a fashion statement. I have never heard of anyone actually filing a claim on it. But, people hiring Notaries think you are more serious when you have more of it. So, if you are serious, or want to look serious, or at least act serious, or play someone serious on TV, then consider calling the NNA and upping your insurance.

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February 10, 2021

Covid-19 vs. ID: which is more important to ask about?

Filed under: Business Tips — admin @ 12:19 am

When you confirm a signing, assuming that you actually take the time to do so, you can ask all types of questions. My suggestion is to have a standardized list of things you need to ask about. However, you might want to arrange your list in order of what is the most critical to ask about.

I asked one lady if she thought it was more important to ask about the signer’s ID or Covid. She though Covid-19 as she had had four clients in the last 300 signings who previously had Covid a few weeks ago although they tested negative. So, 1.25% of her clients were an ambiguous risk of Covid19 yet she did not consider how many people were a risk of having unacceptable ID.

In my experience, roughly 5% of people have an ID that doesn’t prove their name on the document. And if you go to a signing where you can’t identify the signer, you either get a credible witness if your state allows this, or the signing might be over. It represents a potential deal breaking situation.

So, which is more serious, the Covid-19 issue or the ID issue? Covid-19 affects people more emotionally. People get all paranoid because of the media brainwashing. I sat with someone who had had Covid a month early. I was a bit apprehensive to share a meal with him and my other friends, but I did it, and everything was fine, and I lived to tell about it several months later. Someone who used to have Covid might strike some emotional buttons, but if they are testing negative NOW, they don’t pose much of a risk.

So, which is more important to ask about? Covid Covid, Oh my God Covid, or ID, ID, oh my God, ID? In my opinion objectively ID is more important, but if you are a vulnerable person, you probably should not be around other people whether they think they have Covid19, had it but got rid of it, or are asymptomatic and untested. If you are healthy enough to go to a signing, the way the name reads on the ID is the most important thing to ask about from my point of view which is based on science…. Okay, it’s not based on the science, but based on “the logic.”

On the other hand, it is impossible to judge the risk of someone who had Covid but is over it. If that is a deal breaker for you, then perhaps it is more important than an ID in your case. My question is so subjective. Perhaps the question is more about whether you can maintain objectivity in the event of a pandemic of emotional imbalance.

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