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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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February 20, 2017

A Notary told us our Certification was approved by 1st American

Filed under: Certification & Communication Skills — admin @ 7:36 am

I was calling Notaries up to inform them of the merits of our certification program when one tole me that our certification has finally been approved in the real world. He told me that 1st American Title is now accepting NNA or 123notary.com certification. Personally, I feel that our test is harder than NNA’s, so why accept anything else?

Let us know if you come across companies that like our certification. The people who use our site give double the business to those who passed our test and have our icon which is proof of the pudding so to speak although proof is off my diet — but, pudding isn’t!

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February 19, 2017

Need an NNA Alternative?

Filed under: Business Tips — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 9:53 pm

NNA is a very reliable and quality organization that has been helping Notaries with education, supplies, background checking, and a world-class technical hotline for years. We at 123notary recommend them highly. However, their fees can be a bit high for some budgets, and you are probably thinking of alternatives for your Notary needs. Some claim that NNA has gotten too big, and is no longer the optimal source for Notaries to rely on. I refrain from having a personal opinion on this matter, although I would say that you should analyze your various Notary needs, and find the ideal source for each need rather than relying on one-stop shopping unless you feel that one-stop shopping makes more sense. So, here are the alternatives.

Signing Agent Education
(1) 123notary offers good loan signing combos with solid marketing advice and the convenience of take home course in printable, online, or take home book.
(2) We recommend Notary2Pro if you want thorough training and hand holding. they train their Notaries better than anyone else. Their courses are not as affordable as 123notary’s and do not have the marketing expertise that 123notary does, but they excel at nuts and bolts technical training.

Background Checks
NNA and Sterling are the two acceptable names for background checks. So, if you want an alternative to NNA, try Sterling.

Directories
SigningAgent.com used to deliver more jobs to Notaries than it does now. Over the last six years it has gone down hill from what I’ve heard.
(1) 123notary is a good source for high paying notary work
(2) SnapDocs is a good source for low-ball signing work for beginners
(3) NotaryRotary is the runner up for a mix of signing agent work ranging from top-notch to low-ball.

E&O Insurance
Notary Rotary and other organizations also sell Notary E&O insurance. Not sure who has better prices, but you can shop around.

Supplies
There are various companies around the nation that offer supplies, Notary Rotary being one of them. Personally, I always relied on NNA as my sole destination for thumbprinters, acknowledgment pads, carry-all bags, and anything else I needed.

Summary
NNA seems to be the best destination for one-stop Notary shopping. However, the alternatives might offer better prices and in some cases better quality especially for signing agent education, background screening, and directory marketing. However, for E&O and supplies they would be my first choice. I am not here to make your decision for where you should go for what. But, compare the competition for each type of items or services that you need, perhaps try each option out, and then optimize your decision making skills!

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January 25, 2017

Can you think under pressure?

Filed under: Certification & Communication Skills — Tags: — admin @ 7:00 am

Many Notaries live on the edge from time to time. Sometimes there is no work and Notaries feel bored. But, other times they are at a job and the phone is ringing off the hook — the pressure builds. They key here is handling pressure well. What are the types of things that can go wrong when you are under time pressure.

1. Phone calls come in when you’re busy
If you are at a signing or driving to a signing and someone offers you a job, many Notaries will say, “Sorry, can’t talk now I’m at a signing.” or “Sorry, can’t talk because I’m on my way to a signing.” If you can’t think or function when you’re on your way to an appointment or at an appointment, that means that four hours per day are off limits to those who want to call you. It is rude to answer your phone only to tell someone you can’t talk. Then, when someone calls you back in two hours they get, “Sorry, now is not a good time because I’m eating dinner with my family.” It’s NEVER a good time for you — face it. I keep records of every time someone refuses to talk to me. If you don’t want to talk, just don’t answer your phone for anyone other than the Lender. And if you don’t know who is calling, give them 90 seconds as a courtesy before telling them you can’t talk — it’s just plain manners.

2. Jobs come in when you’re busy
If you get a job while you are busy doing something else, you still need to background screen the company. They background screen you, so why shouldn’t you return the favor? If you are in too much of a hurry to take a job from God knows who doing God knows what, you will probably end up working for a company that doesn’t pay you.

The key here is to practice being polite and handling business when you are busy. Juggling is not only for clowns, but for Notary. And Notary who can’t handle juggling is making a circus out of this industry if you ask me!

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January 22, 2017

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

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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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