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April 12, 2011

Pricing for notary work: different strokes for different folks

Pricing for notary work – different strokes for different folks
 
Notaries argue endlessly about what to charge and what others should charge.
Some notaries wish that there could be a set fee in the industry for certain jobs.  That is not legal or possible.  Other notaries complain when low-ball signing companies offer them work for $40 or $50 which is better than nothing.  Many notaries complain that they did lots of work and didn’t get paid, which is a very serious issue.  So, what should you charge and why?
 
What fancy signers do
I know of many signers who will not leave the house for less than a particular set fee.  One notary public I know will not leave the house for less than $150, while others will not leave for less than $125.  They figure that they have to put up with getting dressed nicely, traffic, borrowers who want to take forever reading, lenders, and then trying to get paid.  It’s just not worth it for less.  But, these notaries have something that some of the rest of us don’t always have:  something to keep them busy during the rest of their time when they are not doing notaries.  If you rely exclusively on mobile notary and signing agent work to keep you busy, you have to take almost every job that comes your way. If you sell insurance, real estate, or have some other type of job, then you can pick and choose what type of notary work you do.  If the company has a bad reputation, or doesn’t pay enough, or if the job is even one mile outside of your coverage area, you have the luxury of saying no.
 
Additionally, many high-priced signers will not leave the house to notarize single documents for less than $50 travel fee no matter how close the job is.  Finding notaries who are available, close, and answer their phone is hard, so you can often get high travel fees if people can find you.
 
FYI: Notaries who are in the high price range generally have experience and finesse to back up their high prices. They are normally very reliable, well trained, well dressed, and have good business skills.  Those of us who don’t have all of our skill sets polished will have trouble commanding such high prices for signings.
 
What desperate signers do
Anyone who is not a convicted felon can be a mobile notary .  This profession is open  and easy to get into which means that there will be a lot of competition and a lot of newbies who will do anything to get work.  Some people become mobile notaries who are successful in what they do, but prefer the free lifestyle. Others get into this because they have mouths to feed, and this is the only way they can think of to sustain themselves.  Desperate signers are often new in the business, lacking experience, and are poorly trained.  They will often not be certified by 123notary, or NNA.  They will not know what they can get away with charging, and the quality of their work?  Who knows?  Desperate signers will work for $40 per signing, do fax backs, drive long distances paying a lot for gas, and then often not even get paid.  We wish these desperate types would consult us.  We would tell them to research all companies before working for them.  No matter how hungry you are, working for somoene who won’t pay you doesn’t make sense. You would be better off at home twiddling your thumbs.
 
What makes sense
We have another notary blog entry that goes over the components in price computations.  Its very complicated and goes over many factors. The biggest factor is how desperate you are.  If you don’t have enough work, then you need to become a regular for more companies.  It makes sense to accept lower paying work until your schedule is filled slightly more than you can comfortably handle.  Once you reach that threshold, then raise your minimum a notch or tighten your radius a notch.  Supply and demand is the ultimate deciding factor in what you charge.  No set fee schedule or recommendation from a friend can help you here.
 
Should I mention what I charge in my profile?
As a general rule, we say no.  Notaries change their pricing all the time, and with all the variables, you would have to write a novel to document exactly what you charge. Its easier if someone just calls and asks.  The low-ball companies call (bother) everyone, so you won’t be left out by them. The high-payers start with the top of the list and gravitate towards elite certified folks.  Changing your notes section to include fees doesn’t get you at the top of the list or elite certified, and won’t increase your business by much if at all.  Companies who know what you charge will still bother you to offer you jobs at half of what you charge. 
 
Marketing Marketing Marketing
The main thing to remember is to market yourself well. If you have a bigger net, you catch more fish, and then you keep the ones you like.  Even if you are busy, having more offers doesn’t hurt.  If you can take more jobs from companies you like, and decline jobs from companies who are less than your favorites, that is a beneficial way to go.

Tweets:
(1) Notaries argue endlessly about what to charge & what others should charge. Here’s what the pros do!
(2) How much is it worth to get dressed nicely, deal w/traffic, wait for borrowers who want to take forever, lenders & then try to get paid?
(3) The notary profession is easy to get into which means there’ll be lots of low priced competition!
 
You might also like:

Pricing formulas for mobile notary work. 
http://blog.123notary.com/?tag=pricing\

Price Formulas and Time Spent
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=588

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March 31, 2011

Things that get notaries complaints

Things that get notaries complaints
 
Complaints are taken seriously at 123notary.com.  None of the notaries on board have voiced an opinion supporting our review system which allows browsers to post legitimate complaints about notaries.  Many notaries on board feel that they have a license to cause trouble, and that I have no right to ask questions or do anything about it since they pay us for advertising. Many notaries want the right to harm others without being held accountable.  My point of view is that if you cause misconduct while on our site, ITS MY BUSINESS, and you will be held accountable. 
 
I want to take a positive approach to this problem and let the notaries know what the common things that go wrong are, so that you can avoid getting a complaint in the first place.   I’m going to list types of complaints in order of how frequently they come up.
 
(1) Rudeness
Of all the complaints we have gotten, the largest category was rudeness which includes using bad words, hostility, hanging up on people, rude tones of voice, antagonism, harrassment, and threats.  If a signing company doesn’t treat you the way you like, DON’T WORK FOR THEM.  Don’t threaten to use their fedex account.  Don’t threaten to put a lien on the borrowers house if you don’t get paid.  Don’t withold a borrower’s documents until you get paid.  Have a policy for what you accept from others.  If others violate your terms, then stop dealing with them.  Period!
 
(2) No Show no call
It amazes me that notaries think they can completely blow off a signing without even calling. Then, the excuses notaries give remind me of being a substitute teacher in eighth grade. The excuses are clevely worded so that you will feel guilty for asking them any more questions.  Heartbreaking stories, grueling conditions, family crisises, and earthshaking emergencies.  Many of these excuses are true, but there is no way to verify, because not once have I ever been offered a scan of a document that proves someone’s argument one way or the other.  If you are offered a signing and you can’t make it, call at least two hours in advance.  If you are having a family emergency, in a snow storm, in WW3, in a flood, or are almost dead, you better call otherwise you will get a complaint, and I am not too interested in the excuses.
 
(3) Notary Mistakes
Many notaries make mistakes. The good notaries triple check their work and are willing to go back if they made even one small mistake.  But, not all notaries are good notaries. Many will be unwilling to go back to an appointment a second time to fix what they did wrong.   If you make a mistake, fix it whether you get paid to or not, otherwise you will lose clients and get complaints.
 
(4) Failure to return calls or emails after a signing
This is another type of problem that people have every conceivable type of excuse for.  Personally, when I’m on vacation, I answer emails.  I had a vacation where I slept in my car, slept in a tent, and couldn’t find an internet cafe for half a day. I kept looking until I found it and answered as many emails as I could.  Signing agents will go on vacation, or say they did, and use that as an excuse not to return phone calls or emails.  I won’t accept this as an excuse.  You have to be available up to 48 hours after a job is done in case there is a problem, and the problem could very well be the fault of the title company, but you still have to be available.  No excuses.

 (5) Slandering or sabotaging companies you work for
One notary said that the terms of the loan were not good.  Another tried to sell the borrower a modification right at the signing.  A third threatened to use the lender’s Fedex account # because she said she didn’t get paid enough.  Another one sent porno spam to us and others. 
 
(6) Other types of misconduct.
Some notaries just cause a lot of various types of trouble.  Others are unwilling to fix mistakes they made.  Once in a while a signer will outsource jobs to another signer and then not pay them.  Last minute cancellations are completely unacceptable unless there is a documented health emergency or other type of uncontrollable circumstances.  One notary has a habit of double booking appointments and then trying to reschedule them at the last minute.  Two notaries walked out of an appointment.  One had a family emergency and flaked.  He forgot to even tell the borrowers who were in the other room that he was going to the hospital.
 
The moral of the story is to avoid all of these problems by being very careful to go to all your appointments, be polite even if others are not polite to you, and do a good follow up after the job is done.  I’m personally tired of all the complaints, excuses, the dramas, and irresponsibility.  We want good notaries on 123notary, and for the most part, the notaries on board are excellent. We do not want a few bad apples to cause a bad reputation for the others.

Tweets:
(1) Many notaries feel that since they pay us for advertising, we’ve no right to post bad reviews on their profile.
(2) Many notaries are rude to signing companies who manipulate them. Don’t be rude! Just don’t work for them.
(3) Many notaries just don’t answer their phone or email after a signing which can cause a nightmare.

You might also like:

Florida Notaries with complaints
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=1870

A list of things that rude notaries do
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2198

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March 14, 2011

Dragging the person’s arm

Is your notary job a drag?
This job is like dragging arms man!
Are your hospital customers a drag, literally?
 
Dragging the signers arm
It was back in 2000.  I had had a Santa Monica notary job, and then was called from Arcadia.  I was informed that I would be needed to visit an Arcadia hospital to do a hospital notarization signing later that night. They were not sure. The patient would be awake and ready around 11pm, but maybe later… maybe much later.  I explained that I was a night owl, and that its no problem.  Just call while I’m still awake.  Once I’m sleeping, you have lost me. 
 
The phone call
So, I finished my Santa Monica job, got another job in West Covina, and drove back home through El Monte to Monterey Park where I was living at the time.  This was long time ago when I had first started 123notary to advertise my personal notary services to five counties in Southern California.  I was the only notary listed on 123notary at the time.  Ah, the memories of the good old days!  So, I waited at home watching television.  Finally the call came at 11pm.  They said they wanted to meet me at 1am at the hospital in Arcadia.  I said fine.  I’ll meet you in the lobby, I’ll be carrying a small black bag.
 
The lobby
I arrived at the lobby.  My client was early and waiting for me.  Clients always had ESP and always knew who I was without ever having met me before.  I guess my demeanor of looking like I was having the time of my life was what gave me away — NOT!  We went up to the hospital room, and there she was… the signer… and the family.  Fortunately the signer had ID.  It was time to sign.
 
I can’t move my arm!
The signer could barely move their arm.  In situations like this, the daughter of the signer always puts a pen in the elderly person’s arm, grabs the elderly person’s arm, DRAGS it across the page, and attempts to “help” them sign.  I had to stop them.   STOP!   Who is signing here?  You, or her?  The daughter said, “She is signing, I’m just helping her!”.  I said, PLEASE STOP helping her.  Lets have Ethel sit up a bit…there… thats much better.  Lets put the document on a hard surface so her pen doesn’t rip a whole in it.  Hmmmm… Much better!  Now, you can use your arm as a brace to guide Ethel’s arm, but let Ethel do the movements herself, otherwise you are more or less forging her signature even though she is the one holding the pen. 
 
40 minutes later
After 20 minutes, we got the first signature done. That wasn’t so hard, was it?  Then, we did the thumbprint in my journal to prove that the etch-a-sketch “scribble” wasn’t forged.  Elderly people grab on for dear life when you thumbprint them, their tension is like a brick.  Now it was time for the journal thumbprint.  I will bet money, that this won’t take any longer than another 25 minutes.  I was right!  We turned the journal almost completely upside down.  I had to supervise to make sure Ethel signed where she was supposed to and not on the “Name of document” section for Harry’s notarization that had taken place the previous day.  Thank god I watch everyone like a hawk.  The notarization was a “breeze”.  All in a days work.

Tweets:
(1) Doing signings for the elderly in hospitals is like pulling teeth or dragging arms!
(2) Whenever I arrive at a hospital lobby, the clients have ESP and automatically know I’m the notary!
(3) The signer could barely move her arm, so the daughter grabbed it, put a hen in her hand & moved the arm around!

You might also like:

Power of Attorney at a Nursing Home
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2305

Rules for notarizing a bedridden person
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2243

Just say No #2
http://blog.123notary.com/?tag=just-say-no2

Grandma’s notary service & Paralysis notary service
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=4231

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March 3, 2011

Mobile Offices from A to Z

Mobile offices and their advantages
 
One of our notaries in Maryland commands higher prices for his loan signing services due to his expertise in signings and also because he has a mobile office which facilitates last minute notary jobs and last minute quick changes to documents.  This notary has state-of-the-art equipment that comprises his mobile office in his pickup truck.  He has a scanner, regular sized printer, laptop, extra toner, paper, a special inverter, cables, a powerful alternator, and extra heavy duty fuses.  His internet connection is courtesy of Verizon Wireless Broadband.  Additionally, he considers it really important to have a really powerful battery because the equipment puts a heavy load on the battery.  Another interesting fact is that he uses a police squad laptop holder so he can work comfortably while in the drivers seat.   He prints by putting the printer in the back seat.  His wires are directly wired to the car’s electrical system instead of using a plug in that would go in the cigarette lighter.
 
What are the technical issues of a mobile office?
This notary started his mobile office in 2004.  He has lots of experience with mobile offices and the issues related to them.  He claims that someone with a regular car might not have enough battery or alternator power to handle the load of a laser printer.   He used to blow fuses to do overload, but learned that buying top of the line heavy-duty fuses and having a state of the art alternator he could handle the demands of the job.  Our Maryland notary public learned that it was not technically feasable to run a printer and laptop simultaneously using his mobile office.  So, what he does is to put the laptop on battery only while printing documents
 
Printing
With a mobile office, a signing agent can download documents while you are driving.  Imagine the time you can save multi-tasking.  Our Maryland Notary Public uses a regular sized printer without any issues.  However, the printer gets hot, so a firewall is necessary.  He uses wood covered by velcro to make sure that no fires are created when he places the printer on a seat or on the floor. 
 
How does this help his business?
You can get more money for signings having a mobile office because you can do last minute quick prints of last minute documents.  Imagine that the lender has a quick change to the Settlement Statement or other critical document.  No problem, it can be reprinted at the signing.  What if there is a quick name variation change, or change for a critical figure in the loan.  Again, this is easy to printout at the last minute.  Many loans have to be completely rescheduled due to the notary’s lack of equipment, but not if you have a mobile office!
 
What does it cost?
You could spend $2000-$3000 for a mobile office.  The inverter is about $100 and thats critical for good electrical flow.  Scanners and printers a few hundred each.  The biggest expense is the laptop, and those can run anywhere from $500 to $2000 per unit.

Tweets:
(1) One of our notaries commands a higher fee simply because he has a sophisticated mobile office!
(2) Having a mobile office is perfect in the “unlikely” event that a lender sends you docs late when ur on the road.
(3) You could spend up to $3000 for a really good mobile office. Don’t forget to start w/an inverter!
 
You might also like:
 

Erica’s mobile office story

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