March 2011 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com
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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 19, 2011

What to say and what not to say.

Filed under: Etiquette,Posts With Many Comments — Tags: , , — admin @ 5:43 am

Notary Etiquette – what to say and what not to say
 
Politeness is hard to gauge in any society.  In a social environment, if people don’t like your comments, they just won’t associate with you.  But, in a business environment, you will lose valuable clients.  Personally, I am the worst person to write this post, because I am notorious for saying the wrong thing at every given opportunity.  On the other hand, maybe thats why I am the perfect person to write this article — I know what one has to lose by opening their mouth!
 
Being professional
Some people treat professionalism by being overly uptight, no fun, and addressing people as Mr Smith, and Mrs. Sutterfield.  They never crack a joke, and never express an opinion.  They will dress well, and get their job done, but were they a pleasure to deal with? Sometimes I really tune into this issue at the Japanese restaurant down the street. 
 
The Japanese restaurant

Its less than two miles away — a Japanese restaurant so good, its worth walking a mile to get to.  With the lack of parking, sometimes I do walk at least half a mile, and then wait to be seated. They are the best cooks, and are very professionally dressed in their black ninja outfits.  Politeness is never an issue, but there are never opinions, and small talk is …. well… “small”.  Then, a new guy started working there.  He is ultra friendly and talkative while being extremely polte.  We talk about every topic under the sun (not the rising sun).  He can talk about any subject while being careful not to criticize others.  Maybe he should be writing this blog entry!
 
Being friendly!
To get good reviews with the signing services, you need to be  a pleasure to work with.  Being human and friendly is part of the game — of course without sacrificing professionalism.  I really want to get responses from this blog on what the notaries consider the “right amount” of being friendly.  The trick is knowing what to talk about and how to talk about it.  With me, I’ll quickly digress into some inappropriate political discussion: a big no-no.  But, weather is a much safer bet.  But, even weather can be controversial.  Talking about rain is safe, but should you wait for the other person to bring up the subject of tsunamis just to be safe?  If its me, I’ll even ruin the subject of weather by bringing in the concept that God is upset with humans and thats why we are having the tsumani.  I’ll alienate borrowers even with the safest of topics.  Maybe I should stick to hurricanes.  At least with hurricanes I can blame the government for being neglegent about building levies, and leave God out of it!!!
 
Safe topics
Traffic is a safe topic, especially for me, since its clearly the fault of humans and not God’s wrath. But, what if you are late and talk about traffic.  Then, its no longer fun conversation — its an excuse… There’s a no-no!  Only talk about traffic if you are on time!  If its me, I’ll ruin even a nice conversation about traffic, by blaming the government for keeping gas taxes so low.  After that remark, even the socialists will outcaste me!  But, its true — if gas were $7 per gallon, there wouldn’t be any traffic — ever!!!
 
Fashion – is it safe?
Fashion could go either way.  It depends on whether the other person has the same tastes as you.  But, sticking to more “universal” topics like where the best sales are for general items is relatively safe.  Talking about general items is politically correct, but when it gets into tweed blazers, you are entering an area of sociological barriers.  The professors will like the conversation, and everyone else will raise their eyebrows!
 
Guns and Religion?
Obama really blew it with this comment.  Religion teaches peace, so how can religious people love guns so much?  Do they want to fight for peace? Don’t talk about this at a signing!  But, if you can pull off talking about what happened at church last week without alienating those of a different caste, creed or faith, I’ll be impressed.  If you can make this type of conversation “universal” in nature, you are a professional at knowing what to say and how to say it.  I would personally give you a reward!
 
Politics?
OHG… stay away!!!  The most political statement you can get away with is how you bumped into Obama at the swimming pool.  That will work.  You can mention how he out swam you.  I heard he keeps very fit!

If you follow these tips, you will be a more professional notary!

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Credible witnesses from A to Z

If the world ends before my renewal, do I get a refund?

Notary Etiquette from A to Z

The notary who called me back to tell me she couldn’t talk

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March 17, 2011

If the world ends, do I get a refund?

Filed under: Humorous Posts — Tags: , , , — admin @ 10:10 am

If the world comes to an end, do I get a refund?

 I was joking with a client by email tonight.  She asked when her renewal date was for her notary public listing.  I said its 5-01-2012 which is almost eight  months before the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar.  She asked if she would get a refund if the world ended prematurely.  I said, that if the world ends, we will be living in the same situation that Northeast Japan is in — or worse!  There would be no mail, no banks, no mail trucks, no email, and we would have to rely on mental telepathy. That means that there would be no way to get the refund check to you, and no money, and no banks — just debree.  What I said to the out of state client was, “Look on the bright side, maybe the rest of the world will be destroyed, but Los Angeles will be fine!”
 
The Mayan calendar
Personally, I believe strongly in astrology. I live with an astrologer, have heard a lot about Vedic astrology and how detailed it is, and have read several books about Mayan astrology. I even took a course in Chinese four pillars astrology for date selection. Each system is remarkably different, yet they are all reliable enough to use regularly.   So, if the world is going to end, I better hurry up and do whatever I want to do, right?
 
Exact dates?
My astrologer housemate insists that far away planets and constellations don’t have an effect necessarily on the exact date when they are charted to be in a particular position.  So, I believe the same applies to Dec 23rd, 2012.  I believe that the 2012 disasters have been warming up for decades and will apex in 2012 or 2013.    The 2005 tsunamis were an appetizer, the Japan 2011 disaster tsunami is part of the warm up too  The Pakistan and China earthquakes, New Orleans, and 911 are part of the scenario too.  The problem is that the real disasters won’t come for another one to four years.  Solar flares will come that disrupt, or eliminate cell phone communications.  Megatsunamis and 9.0 earthquakes all over the place.  Rising sea levels from the melting of the Ross ice shelf means no more Louisiana, Bangladesh, Tokyo, Netherlands or Florida.  Cities on low ground will be wiped off the face of the earth from rising seal levels.  Japanese cities are mostly below 20 feet in elevation.  No more Toyotas for us!!! Wars and rumors of wars are supposed to happen too.  Scientists, the Bible, and psychics are agreeing on a lot of what the scenario is supposed to be.  Prayer is the only reliable way to safeguard yourself.  Only god can save you and your notary public business — even if you don’t believe in god! 

 
It doesn’t seem to hit at the same place at the right time.
 One month we have an earthquake in one place, then Haiti has an earthquake, then there is a hurricane in another place, an earthquake in one country, and a revolution in another, a future earthquake in San Francisco, and so on and so on.  The damage will not come all at one date or in one place. So, far the world has had many disasters, but our notary public work and notary businesses are still in business!  The  world economy is still in business.  911 effected things more from the reaction that Americans had to the catastrophe, but the reaction made it 100 times worse. People didn’t want to fly anymore and many airlines went out of business and lots tons of cash for more than a year.

So, what is realistic?
Who knows.  I am not able to predict anything, but nothing surprises me either. If you are a signing agent, the problem is that the global and national economies effect you.  If China stops lending America money, then interest rates will go up and nobody will afford to buy properties.  Then notary public signing agents will be in big trouble.  But, what if wealthy Chinese people start coming to California and Oregon to buy up properties.  Then the price goes up so high that we can’t afford a house, but notaries will have work at least.  If there is a disaster and Florida goes under water due to global warming, many of them will go to Georgia and Texas, and the prices of real estate will go up in those other places which means more jobs for notaries.
 
What if things are fine where you are… but..
If you are sitting in Arizona and things are fine, but Los Angeles is hit with a 9.1 and New York City gets obliterated by a tsunami, then wall street will no longer exist and the whole nationwide lending market might actually have to shut down for a long time.
 
What do I suggest?
Save your money and keep 100 gallons of water, first aid equipment, and storable emergency food at home.  Have a crank radio, and boots too, because you might have to walk over power lines.  Keep the water rotated, so its always fresh, and put a few drops of bleach in it.  Keep cash hidden, and have money in the bank just in case.  You have no idea what could hit us, and for how long our cities, country, or world could be out of commission.
 
On a brighter side
Sorry, no notary public listings refunds if the end of the world comes before your renewal date. But, you might get to meet some cute green people from spaceships who come to rescue us.  And Jesus is scheduled to arrive on planet earth sometime soon according to revelation.  You might not be around to see him, but think how happy the others will be.
 
Think positively.
Don’t pay any attention to what I have written if you are in the notary pubic / notary business.

Don’t worry… be happy!

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March 16, 2011

Do you like your job?

Filed under: Hospital & Jail Signings — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 8:43 am

Do you like your job?
 
Once, during a hospital signing, the signers kept me waiting forever while they puttered around, and drafted a document on my time. After keeping me waiting for 45 minutes and seeing my facial expression, the lady asked, “Do you like your job?”. I said, I like it better when my clients are prepared and have the document ready BEFORE they call me.
 
I killed myself to arrive on time for that job.  I had other things to do.   I rushed to the hospital in Pasadena to serve a family of unprepared and unconcerned people whose kids were running around, and parents were casually talking.  I tried to be very patient, so I wouldn’t rush them. The clock was ticking. It was late at night, and there were no other jobs to go to — just my comfortable bed, and television.  I sat staring at the wall and the minutes went by.   In the mobile notary business, you get complaints when you rush people. But, when you don’t rush people, they take all day! 
 
What bothered me most was their casual laissez-faire attitude.  Not one person in the family could care less about how they had wasted my evening.  They took their sweet time preparing the document and having casual conversations while they did it.  Where was the sense of urgency? What prevented them from preparing the document ahead of time?  It is experiences like this, that provoked me to write materials to keep newer notaries out of this type of situation to begin with.
 
Smart notaries announce their terms over the phone.  Here is what the down-to-business types would say:
“I want my travel fee at the door.  I charge waiting time. Its $15 every 15 minutes — no exceptions.  Its $10 per signature to notarize documents.  If the signer is not able to sign for any reason — I’m out the door.  Please make sure they are awake, sober, and conversational.”  But, I was very friendly and relaxed.  I didn’t want people to think I was a hustler, and look what happened to me.  45 minutes down the drain for nothing.
 
I had been very patient for a very long time watching them unnecessarily waste my time.  The lady looked at me and said, “Do you like your job?”.  I didn’t want to be rude, but, this lady really provoked me. 
 
I had another job in Long Beach which was exactly the opposite.  The signers were jazz musicians and stayed up all night.  They needed me to go to a hospital to notarize for a sick relative. They knew the drill and everything was prepared, ID and all.   What a relief!  Not only were they prepared, but they entertained me with their conversation, and made me happy with their friendly disposition. Sure, they had me come at 2am, but for this crowd, I would have notarized them at 4am they were so nice.
 
I wish it were possible for a California notary to notarize across the border in Las Vegas.  Boy, would that be fun.  You could work for a few hours doing signings, and then entertain yourself, get a hotel, and drive back the next day.  A long time ago, I used to do feng-shui consultations for people.  I admit, I was not the best in town, but I met some wonderful people doing those jobs.  A very personable Filipino lady from Las Vegas called me.  She talked me into driving all the way out there to Las Vegas.  She bought me dinner, talked me up, and got me a free hotel room through her connections.  It turns out to have been the most fun feng-shui job I had ever done, and I’ll remember that particular short, but sweet Las Vegas trip forever.

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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 10, 2011

Going on vacation?

How to lose half your clients while on vacation!
 
Are you going on vacation?  Smart notaries call all of their regular clients up and let them know that they will be away.  Its good to let people know when you will and won’t have phone or internet access just in case.  Smart notaries give everyone a “heads up” in any situation just to let people know what to expect.  The worst thing for a signing company is to be left high and dry by a notary, and it happens all the time.
 
Will you lose your clients?
If your clients love you and swear by you, you are in good shape.  Sure, they will use a substitute while you are gone, but if you are loyal and good to them, they will go back to using you when you come back, especially since you gave them a  “heads up” before you left.   Not all notaries are so clever though. Many notaries just leave when they feel like it, and when their regulars call, they get an answering machine and no call back.  Thats a no-no!  The main thing is to give great service when you are in town, so that everyone will wait for you during the periof of time when you are going to be away.
 
When should you go on vacation?
Its good to get away regularly.  If you are on a budget, even a nice camping trip will do you a lot of good. There is nothing better than being around trees, rocks, grass, and animals — so long as the animals are not bigger than you (or hungrier).  Keep your food in a bear container if bears are around. Nature replenishes the body’s qi supply and replenishes the mind and soul.  Your mind needs a break and needs a few days to think about something completely different than phones, work, pressure, and problems. 
 
I recommend going away no earlier than the 4th of the month and no later than the 14th of any particular month.  The first few days of the month sometimes have some clean up issues from problems during the end of the month rush.  Going towards the end of the month when people need you is suicide. Of course, since the economy is so bad, the end of the month rush might not be such a rush.  But, in general, go when its quiet.  December is generally a slow month in general, and people expect that you might be away for the holidays anyway.
 
Excuses, excuses.
Don’t be an excuse maker.  Nobody wants to hear it.  Whenever notaries fail to call a signing company back, the signing company often comes to me, and I always get the same types of excuses. 
 
(1) “I was on vacation in Panama and didn’t have access to a phone”. 
Commentary – you could check into an internet cafe every few days.  Internet cafes exist in almost all countries.
 
(2) “I was at a funeral, and couldn’t step out”
Commentary – Did the funeral last for the 72 consecutive hours that you were not able to make your call for? — Did someone had a gun to your head who wouldn’t let you go to the bathroom either during this time? Give me a break!
 
(3) “I was in the hospital and couldn’t make a phone call”
Commentary – If you are not incapacitated, and want to keep your customers, call them NO MATTER WHAT!
 
Be accountable for your last job.
Notaries often get in trouble when they are on vacation. They forget that they have to be accountable for the last few jobs that they did.  Maybe there was a mistake.  Its usually a mistake made by the Title company or Lender, but the notary still needs to be responsive.  Many phone plans will charge you $2.00 per minute to answer calls overseas.  $2 is less expensive than losing a client!  Stay in touch, and keep your clients.  Getting clients is hard, but losing them is easy.  Just be unresponsive while on vacation!
 
Maybe its good to not do any jobs for 48 hours before your trip!
In this economy you need all the jobs you can get.  But, if you do a job, and are in Japan the next day, what if there is a problem with the loan?  The lender will need you to go back and fix the problem with the loan whether its your fault or not, and if you are in a Zen garden in Osaka with no phone, this will be difficult.  At a minimum, let the signing company know that if there is any type of problem, you will be staying in Kyoto and that they can call the hotel there if they need you.  Then say, “Sayonara”.
 
Map out where the internet cafes are.
Its tough when you are on vacation.  There are tight itineraries, foreign languages, strange customs, and even stranger people depending on where you go!  Just getting off the plane and getting to your hotel without an intestinal challenge can be a mouthful in itself in many countries.  Should you schedule time between your museums and culinary adventures to spend thirty minutes at an internet cafe?  If could save you a client.  Then, go back to your trip, enjoy the scenery, enjoy your tours, savor your nights out, and then enjoy the pleasures of reverse culture shock and jet lag once your plane lands and you arrive back on American soil!
 
The main point is to warn people ahead of time regarding where you will be and when.  When you are not around, its much better if you are accessible through one means or another too.

You might also like:

Notary etiquette from A to Z

Typical things notaries do wrong

Vampire notaries: 24 hour service

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March 9, 2011

Pricing Formulas & Time Spent

Pricing formulas – time spent?
 
At 123notary, we help notaries try to understand the components of pricing.  How hungry you are for work is the most important factor, but time spent is another.  It is not always straight forward to understand how much time a job is going to entail.
 
Traffic
If someone asks you to do a job late at night, you might not like it if you are not a night owl.  However, there is usually no traffic at night after 9pm.  If you live in Los Angeles or NYC, you will be very happy to avoid traffic for once.  If it were me, I would want more to go out during rush hour, especially if the job is far away.
 
Miles?
Not all miles are created equal.  A job 100 miles away on a highway in Montana might be only slightly more than an hour and twenty minutes away. You can go 75 over there.  But, what about a job that is five miles away on congested roads. Some roads seem to always be congested.  Don’t bill based on mileage unless you are forced to by law ( and some states have fixed mileage rates for notaries travel fees ).  Charge the mileage based on how long it will take you.
 
More signers or more notarized signatures?
I used to be the fastest notary this side of the Pecos.  I could do ten signatures for four signers in less than thirty minutes.  Thats a total of 40 signatures and five pages of journal.  I was fast and furious.  But, long sets of documents, or extra notarizations take time.
 
Is the lender missing a few marbles?
Some lenders do not adequately inform their borrowers about the documents or the numbers in the loan.  These days, the laws are more stringent for lenders to keep their borrowers informed about the specifics of their loans.  If a particular lender always has loans that go smoothly, while another lender always gives you nightmares, that costs you extra time which needs to be incorporated into the formula.
 
Unknown company?
Always background check all companies who want you to work for them.  Look them up on our list of signing companies or use your i-phone / android to visit www.123notary.com/S.  Visit our forum or the notary rotary forum.  If you don’t know a company, you can read what others have experienced with them.  You might charge more if working for an unknown company simply because you don’t know what to expect.  Unless they have a well documented track record with others, you don’t know if you will get paid either.
 
Jails
Jails are tricky.  I would not go to a jail until you have read our blog about jails.  You need to make sure the inmate is where they are supposed to be and that you have ID, and that your contact person shows up on time. There is a lot of coordination and waiting that goes on with jail jobs.  Charge accordingly!  10-20% of the time with jail jobs you will not get paid due to lock-downs, no-shows, and ID problems, so incorporate that into your fee too.
 
Hospitals
Hospital notarizations are almost as tricky as jails, and sometimes more tricky.  Travel time to the hospital is the same as to any notary job.  But, waiting time is a constant.  People in hospital beds rarely jump up to see you, produce their ID, and are ready to go!  They are generally sleeping or drugged when you arrive and don’t know who you are.  They have forgotten that their niece is having them sign a document.  Getting them to sit up could take 20 minutes, and bring the book, “Zen and the art of holding a pen” with you — you’ll need it.  Some of the signers can not move their own arm without shaking the pen up and down the page.   If you want to do hospital notariations, please read our blog first so you will know the ins and outs (particularly the outs).  Charge a lot extra for this type of job, because they will have no qualms about keeping you there for hours without compensating you. 
 
People in hospitals, regardless of whether they are nurses, patients, or family members of patients have a very different time consciousness.  They are there for hours and nothing happens.  They are conditioned to the idea that things happen slowly.  If it takes thirty minutes to find a pen, and forty-five minutes to find an ID which isn’t even current, thats fast for them.  A New York minute might take three hours in a hospital.  Try to make sure the hospital folks have their document ready, and current identification in their hand before you get in your car.  I would charge 50-100% extra travel fee for hospitals to incorporate waiting time.  You might tell them that if you are kept waiting, there is a fee for each 20 minutes you are kept waiting.  The first 20 minutes is free, but after that waiting fees must be paid at the beginning of each 20 minute period and that the travel fee must be paid at the door before you even go up the stairs. 
 
On a brighter note, after being in business for a few years (or decades), you will eventually meet a few people at hospitals and jails who actually respect you and your time (no guarantees).  You might eventually meet people who show up prepared without you babysitting them.  Its possible!  So, think positively!
 
Remember — charge for your time, hassle and risk.  Don’t let people take liberties with you, and be prepared and educated about all normal notary situations.
 
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Hospital notarizations from A to Z
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=76

Jail notarizations from A to Z
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=151

Components of pricing formulas
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=84

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March 7, 2011

Don’t park in the driveway?

Don’t Park in the Driveway?
 
This sounds like a dull topic, but the type of responses we get, keep getting better by the day. This issue is the least clear cut, and most confusing issue that notaries face.  Yet, so few notaries ever have this issue cross their mind. 
 
Don’t Park in the Driveway.
Its rude and unprofessional to park in the driveway.  You are leaking fluids on someone’s driveway, preventing them and their family from parking there, and potentially blocking someone.  But, sometimes, there are situations where you should park in the driveway.  You could make several Seinfeld episodes out of this topic.  There is a general rule, and there are dozens of exceptions.
 
(1) I’m confused, isn’t that what driveways are for?  No! The driveway is for the borrower to park in, not the signing agent.  You are a guest, and not the resident.  Don’t park there without permission, and don’t ask permission unlesss you really have to.
 
(2) In regards to “Don’t park in the driveway”, please be aware that many gated communities have banned on-street parking. Check with the homeowner if street parking is allowed when you make the confirmation call. (This is true especially in Florida.)
 
(3) In regards to “Don’t park in the driveway”……where I live most of the time that is ONLY place to park. When I was a new signing agent, that piece of information caused me a lot of stress, but have since realized that I have to do what I have to do. I try not to block in vehicles, but that isn’t always possible.
 
(4) If there is a snow storm, you need to park in the driveway, otherwise the snow plow will cover your car with snow.
 
(5) In rural communities, driveways might be more than a half a mile long, so it behooves you to park in the driveway in such a situation. In winter, it wouldn’t be safe to walk up such a long driveway.
 
(6) Some notaries say, they always park in driveways taking care not to block someone in and never had any trouble. Other notaries say that they would never park in someone’s driveway no matter what.
 
(7) One lady says that a customer complained that she parked in the street instead of the driveway.
 
(8) There might be signs on the street not allowing street parking. That means you are forced to park on the driveway.
 
(9) In some neighborhoods the streets are very narrow, making it a better choice to park in the driveway.
 
The bottom line is that if you value etiquette and manners, and take them to the highest level, just ask where the borrower would like you to park, and then everyone will love you, and might even love your leaking coolant too!

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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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