Many Notaries have a problem getting paid. It’s not you — it’s the industry. But, by using good principles, you can avoid most of the drama. Here are some guidelines to help you through every step of the process.
BEFORE THE SIGNING
When you get that call from a particular company, you need to either have records on each company out there, or be able to look them up. That means you either need online records on a cloud, or accessible from your iPhone, or have a cheat sheet in your glove compartment with up to date records on all signing companies. You need to keep track of:
1. How many jobs have they given you
2. Payment record — average # of days to pay
3. How much outstanding
4. Are they pleasant to work for
5. Cancellation rate.
6. What is their track record on the forums and 123notary’s list of signing companies.
If company cancels too much, you should up their rate or make them pay a cancellation fee or nonrefundable deposit up front, otherwise you will be left holding the bag (and the freshly printed documents.) If a company owes you more than a few hundred, you should deny service until they pay up. If a company has no track record with you, please consider asking them to pay up front via Paypal. If you are a newer signing agent and desperate to get experience, you should be more flexible and take more risks so you get experience. People who use 123notary reward Notaries for having a lot of experience.
You can check new companies on your iPhone while on the road to see how they do on the various forums and 123notary’s list of signing companies with reviews. If a company has a bad track record of payment, you should charge up front or you will likely get stiffed. Some of these companies have no remorse.
CONFIRMING THE SIGNING
Confirming the signing using our tips in the real life scenarios section of Notary Public 101 will not help you get paid, but will help you reduce the amount of signings that end in mid-air. If the signer doesn’t have ID with matching names, or if the other signers aren’t going to be there, or if they don’t have that cashier’s check they need — you are better off not going to their house as it will be a waste of time. Signings that end in “no signs” often do not get paid, so by avoiding this type of scenario, you will have less unpaid jobs as a total percentage.
AT THE SIGNING — MISTAKES
Most Notaries brag about how they have a 99.9% accuracy rate. The truth is that most Notaries make mistakes from time to time, and sometimes FedEx or the Lender screws up too resulting in a second trip. In my experience it is very hard to get paid for a second trip. Companies will often offer to pay, and then not pay you. So, triple checking your work and getting packages to FedEx fast will help reduce your rate of non-paying jobs and also help you from getting fired as much.
AFTER THE SIGNING — FAX
After you are done with your signing, fax a bill and include all pertinent information such as the borrower’s name, property address, loan number, and whatever else the signing or title company wants. Send a bill every week by fax or email or whatever medium your company wants. Also, keep records of every signing company you work for, and all of the jobs they assigned to you. When they pay you, you can indicate the date when they paid you to the right of the job description, borrower name, property address on your records. Your records can be paper or online. It is very fast to do this by paper by the way and less chance of data loss unless you keep the paper in your car.
EVERY MONTH — RECORDS
Every month or so, update your records that you keep in your car. Keep records on each signing company. Track how many jobs they gave you, how fast they pay, what they still owe you, how much you like them. You can assign them a grade too. You can have a customized pricing strategy for each company depending on their track record. You can give lower prices for companies you like. I would base prices on estimated time spent and NOT a fixed price. You could have a — near, medium and far price, or a price that is more intricate depending on number of pages, number of signers, distance, time of day, etc. That is up to you. But, having an intricate pricing strategy will make your life a little more complicated, but will weed out the more difficult companies, or at least make them pay for grief they cause you. Otherwise, those companies will think they can get away with causing Notaries endless headaches. You could keep two sets of these records and update them monthly. One at home and one in the car. If someone offers you a job, don’t quote a price until you look at your records and see if they are on the “A” list.
If a company is past 30 days, time to consider sending them a demand letter. Or you could wait until the 45 day mark depending on how tough you are. We have a demand letter (from hell) template on our resources page. People have had consistently excellent luck with it, and it was given to us by our very most seasoned Notaries on the site.
If anyone gets to this point, definitely send them a demand letter, but consider hiring an Attorney to write a letter threatening them. There are Attorneys who will write a letter for about $30 using their legal assistants. If a company owe you $300 or more, it might be worth it to write a letter. You can also charge for damages which include your time lost and legal fees.
We wrote another article on contracts. Signing companies have contracts to protect their interests. Their contract defends what is convenient and good for the signing company but not what is good for the Notary. You can have your own contract too and make people sign it if they want your services. If you are inexperienced, many companies might not sign it. But, if they need you and you have experience, they just might. You can state terms about partial signings, no shows, cancelled jobs, printing fees, resigns, and whatever else you want. Try to be reasonable in your terms if you expect anyone to sign it and continue using your services.
Try to determine before hand how much credit to offer to particular companies. This needs to be customized. Companies with a bad track record should not get any credit and must pay up front. Companies that have been solid towards you for years might get $400. But, don’t offer more than that because good companies turn bad all the time the minute they run into credit problems. Each company you work for should have a credit rating with you and an individual amount of credit you will offer them. When they offer you a job, see how much they are in debt to you already before saying yes, otherwise — it’s Paypal — or no job!
Trouble getting paid?
Tips for getting paid
Scary results when someone uses our demand letter from hell
Template for our famous demand letter