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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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June 4, 2021

RON — did you invest more than you made in revenue?

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 10:44 am

The field of RON or Remote Online Notarizations is an unstable one. I have met many Notaries who do it, and a few who even like it. Some get tons of business, others get a job once in a blue moon, and many get nothing.

The costs of being a RON are hundreds and a lot of work. You need to get commissioned, perhaps get an online journal, and software, and approvals from the various platforms or agencies that deal with RON identification and other processes such as Pavaso and about six other popular options.

With Coronavirus abounding, people thought there would be more of a demand for RON. Many state governors made abrupt executive orders allowing it, and there were changes in legislation in various states (I don’t know the details) allowing more online notarizations.

Whether or not RON is secure, or whether you can identify people sufficiently was not much of a concern for the politicians. Their goal was to find yet another way to keep you at home. It’s like Yakov Smirnoff’s comedic commercial for Russian Express Card.

American Express Card — Don’t leave home without it
Russian Express Card — Don’t leave home…. ever…

How much work you get as a RON might depend on whether or not there is a virus. It also depends on how the culture adapts to new technology. People overseas who need an American Notary have to use it. Most of the clients for RON are in Dubai, London, Berlin, Israel, Italy, China, or some foreign place (that often has some sort of really long wall).

Worth it or not?
If you like dealing with all of the computer technology and think it’s cool, in the long run it might work for you if you can figure out how to market yourself. For others who are doing it just for the money, the money is not there yet, so don’t do it unless you can’t live without it.

People on 123notary who list that they are a RON get a lot more clicks. It is impressive and lets the world know you go above and beyond what the average Notary does.

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June 2, 2021

New Notaries vs. Veteran Notaries

Filed under: General Articles — admin @ 10:36 am

The behavior of the newer Notaries doesn’t match the older Notaries on 123notary.com.

THE OLD NOTARIES
The old Notaries have been around for ten or twenty years.

Certifications
Many passed our certification test in the old days, but did not bother with the audit retest which consisted of a few Notary questions which are not easy, but you need to know it anyway. Older Notaries tend to be NNA certified which is the easiest of all the tests from prominent agencies, but they rarely pass the LSS, 123notary, or Notary2Pro tests which are hard.

Social Media
The old Notaries used to be very active on forums, linked in, facebook, but not so much on Twitter. But, in the past few years, the older Notaries got tired, died, quit, or stopped being so active on social media.

How They Maintain Their Listing
Additionally, the older Notaries do not do much with their profiles on 123notary. They let the profiles sit and collect cyber dust instead of asking for reviews. 123notary has a lot less online reviews than several years ago because people are not being proactive as much anymore.

THE NEW NOTARIES
The new Notaries are generally in their first or second year of business as a signing agent.

Certifications
Roughly 30-35% of the newer Notaries are LSS certified and close to 90% are NNA certified. A handful are Notary2Pro Certified and we get a trickle passing our 123notary online test as well every month. There seems to be more motivation to prove themselves so that they can make a name for themselves. This was not the case as much with newer Notaries even a few years ago.

Social Media
Newer Notaries seem to not do much on social media. NNA figured out how to get good interaction on their Facebook and a large proportion of the Notaries on there are new ones. The posts that good high quantities of interactions had yes/no answers. So, the quantity of the answers might look good, but the depth of the answers doesn’t compare to the veteran Notary crowd who have volumes to say. Not all oldsters are like this, but the people with long and thorough posts tend to have 15 years or more of experience, sonny.

How They Maintain Their Listing
Unfortunately, I have to get after most people to make their listing complete at least by my standards. A good presentation is life or death, but our Notaries don’t seem to have the motivation to do a quality job of their notes section on their own. This is sad. Even the people paying $400 per year need to be babysat in terms of their notes, reviews, and other aspects of listing maintenance.

SUMMARY
So, things have really changed. My wish is that people will put more effort into their career. I feel happier when people take life more seriously. I am not saying that people are not serious, but they tend to shirk what I consider to be reasonable responsibilities.

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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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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 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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