September 2011 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com
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September 24, 2011

Erica’s Mobile Office Story

Erica’s Mobile Office Story
 
Erica has been a full time mobile notary for 17 years in California’s central coast.  She enjoyed driving her BMW to signings, and the gas mileage was not that bad.  But going all the way up to Northern San Luis Obispo county and all the way down to Santa Barbara Couny, and then all the way up and down and up and down for e-document signings got to be ridiculous.  She said to herself, “I’ve been doing this business for a long time, and there must be a better way to do this”. 
 
A few years ago she decided that a mobile office was the way to do business.  That would eliminate all of the traveling back home each time she needed to print documents.  She could print on the road while driving and multi-task which would make her time work even more efficiently.  There was a particular vehicle that she had had her eye on for a long time — the Chevy HHR.  It was a cross between a SUV and a Hatchback.  But, its main feature was that it’s battery was in the BACK, making it easy to add an inverter and power strip.  This would allow her to have printers, computers and other equipment in the back receiving enough power to all function at once!!! 
 
Long distance travel
Although her BMW got better gas mileage than her new “truck”, she didn’t have to go all the way back home each time she printed docs using the truck!  Erica’s range was 120 miles up and down the coast, and many times she would have to go up and down multiple times per day when business was faster (in the old days).
 
The inverter
Initially, she wanted to get a generator, but thought it would be too loud for night signings.  But, then after she bought her more powerful vehicle, the generator was no longer necessary.  She started out getting an inverter on ebay for $79, but it didn’t have enough Hertz.  Then, she got serious and made a pilgimmage to Oxnard, California to get a heavy duty 2000 watt inverter for $129 which did the trick.    This inverter had enough power for all of her equipment.
 
Her equipment
Erica’s arsenal of equipment includes: (1) a netbook, (2) a three-in-one scanner, printer, and fax (3) HP Laserjet 2430dtn printer that prints a whopping 35 pages per minute! Wow! That’s the fastest I’ve ever heard about.  She has SIX of these and gets them for pennies on ebay, but they might cost up to $1000 in a store.  She get’s her toner for $20 on ebay which costs over $100 in stores.  The other things she stocks in her “truck” include extra legal paper, letter paper, toners for each weapon, staplers, tape, rubber bands, shipping supplies, post-it notes, and dozens of pens.  She also keeps an extra journal in her car just in case!
 
The warranty
Erica is a seasoned electronics customer and gets a square trade warranty whenever she buys something online.  Personally, I would go with the triangular one (to keep things simple), but the square one seems to be the industry standard.
 
More work capacity
The bottom line of this story is how Erica refined her operation to have maximum efficiency.  She can now accept last minute assignments.  And, by eliminating the back and forth, she can now do nine signings per day, when the maximum she was able to do in the old days was five.

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September 20, 2011

Notary is pushed off stairs by borrower!

Well, I thought I had heard it all.  I hear a lot of wonderful, interesting tales here at 123 from our members. Some are entertaining and funny while others are very sad and depressing. This, unfortunately is one of these stories and unfortunately it is the worst to date. It is nothing short of horrendous and shameful. Although I have her permission to tell her story, I promised her I would not reveal her or the area she lives in. So, here we go…

This particular notary public who is female took a signing from a signing company, she confirmed her appointment, prepared her docs and met her borrower at the the specified time. As she went through the documents, he saw that his interest rate was 1/2 percent more than he had been told. He then became enraged. He requested (using vulgarity) that she leave his home immediately. She packed up her things up and prepared to leave the premises.  As she proceeded to the door the  borrower followed, continuing to rant and rave using foul language incessantly. He was VERY angry with this 1/2 of a percent increase that nobody had bothered to inform him of (sadly, a  story we all are familiar with and have heard many times)  and, to top it to make matters even worse off, the loan officer had not been in contact with him and had been unreachable for several days.

So, as she walked out of the door onto his front porch. There were 4 steps to go down to the walkway that would lead to her car… But, before she could take that first step — with the force of both of his hands on her shoulders he pushed her down and off the porch. She went flying off the porch, and by the grace of God she somehow pivoted her body onto the grass instead of his cemented walkway  that was directly in front of her but unfortunately in trying to break her fall she broke her left wrist. In disbelief and shock she just laid there. The borrower went back into the house and shut and locked his door.  However, fortunately for her, the borrower’s neighbor who was mowing his lawn at the time witnessed the whole thing. He called out to his wife to call the police and the paramedics and he came to her aid and sat with her until they arrived. (A knight in shining armor). The paramedics attended to her and after the police got the story from both the notary and the neighbor one of the officers went to the door of the borrower , rang the bell and the borrower did not answer. At that point the officer yelled out to him to open the door or else. He did eventually open the door, and then was immediately  handcuffed and  placed under arrest and was put in the back of the police car.

Now folks get this — as the paramedics worked on our notary public to prepare her for the trip to the hospital and the police filled out their report the borrower (hand cuffed in the back seat of the police car) was still ranting  and raving non stop with vulgarities that they (the police and paramedics) needed to get this you know what off his grass and property. One of the police officers obviously fed up with this behavior as well as the noise went over to the borrower and told him that he needed to shut up and slammed the car door. He then asked the neighbor if this  behavior was characteristic  of this man. The neighbor and the wife just looked at each other and nodded yes… I just cant believe this man and his behavior, I am still in awe of all of it.

The paramedics said that if she had fallen  onto the concrete instead of the grass she would have broken both wrists and god knows what else in the process. All things  considered she was lucky-it could have been way worse.

She ended up staying in the hospital of 4-5 days instead of the day and half  she was originally told due to an infection she developed in her wrist.

Now it is 1 month later and she is finally back to work. She is healing well I asked her how she felt about her career now (she is a full time  signing agent) and if she felt like giving it up…and she said no way. She says she loves her job and knew this was just something that happened. Kudos to her! She and DA have filed charges and he has 3 counts against him and there will be a civil suit as well. I hope he gets ALL that is coming to him….I say throw the book at him.

Now, of course the signing service that gave her the assignment wants to know why the loan wasn’t closed. Well get this; When she called in to tell them  what had happened from the hospital — the person on the other end of the line laughed and said “you could have come up with a better excuse than that”. So, in order to clear her name she had to send in the police report, hospital records etc….( and yes she did manage to call the day of the signing)

So, all of this leaves me with a few thoughts. I really feel that this could have been avoided if the loan officer had done his job. This is so often the case where the loan officer knows exactly what the numbers are way ahead of time but avoids sharing this information with the borrowers and we go out at the final hour when they know these borrowers are desperate and for the most part are stuck and cant turn back now, and they regrettably just sign. And we get stuck in middle — and in this case — pushed down a flight of stairs. Now some of you will disagree and put up a fuss but this is why when I call and confirm with the borrowers I ask them has the loan officer been in touch and have they gone over the figures with them. If the answer is yes then I ask them what are the numbers supposed to be. This way if the number con-inside with what I see, we are good. If not, I can alert the hiring party that we have a problem before I waste the borrowers time or MINE.  I can avoid problems at the table-situations like the one I just described to you here. (aLthough it is rare and the first time I have heard such of a thing happing it is now a reality that it is possible). This technique does not always work but it is sure worth a try. And it might save you some trouble. I have been doing it for years. Now I know some of you will chew my head off about this technique of mine but this is my business and I run it as I see fit-just as you will run yours as you see fit. But, remember this is for the most part why are economy is shot…to many lies and games being played in the refinance word, and we are usually abandoned and stuck in the middle.

Now, most of you know I preach about your worth and the fees that you charge — this story just reinforces my feeling that you need to be paid what you are worth. I know this is an extreme case but we stick out necks out every time we take an assignment. We NEVER know where our notary public assignments will take us or what we will have to deal with when we get there. We deal with bad attitudes, late documents, traffic, bad neighborhoods, filthy homes, terrible smells, pets, incompetence, etc., and sometimes bad people. So my point is you need to be paid what you are worth. If you continue accepting these low fees that they are offering nowadays not only do you hurt yourself you hurt all of us: the notary community as a whole…..Now in this case a higher fee would not have stopped his unthinkable behavior but I feel that because we deal with so much adversity in this business we need to have our pay more in line with our efforts and the things that we are subjected too. For me, without fair compensation this profession is just not worth the effort or trouble.

Until next time!! BE SAFE!!

Written by Carmen Towles

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Part 2 of Notary is pushed of stairs – the sequel!

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September 12, 2011

Deceptive Identities – Companies that change their names

Companies that change their names
 
If you read the forums much, and you are advised to, you will have some idea of what is going on in the notarial world.  Signing agents are being low balled, not paid, strung along, and worse.  Some of the players or characters in this drama either change their company name, or transfer to another company, whose identity is unknown to the notaries as a group. This is very sneaky and deceptive, but the notaries are a fast group to catch on to scams and publish information on the forum.
 
Moving to a new company
From time to time, notaries will post about this phenominon.  An agent from a signing or title company of a particular name, will leave one company and start working for another company.  A notary, or more than one notary will find out, and post about it on the forum.  Believe me, if Jill at XYZ company didn’t pay you, then the fact she is working for a new outfit won’t make her pay you.  Of course Jill will give you the run around and say that it was out of her control, and that it was up to payroll or accounts payable.  How can you blame Jill for what was out of her hands?  My opinion, based on spiritual knowledge and common sense is that like and like attract.  If you are a screwball, you will be likely to work for screwballs. If you are honest, how long will you stick around with crooks once you figure out who they really are?  So, if the problem is in accounting, I think you are guilty by association.  What do you think? Additionally, how can I be sure that accounts payable calls the shots of who gets paid. In companies with ten or twenty people, it could be anyone. 
 
Changing company names
Sometimes companies will do business under one name, and then perplex everyone and pick a new name.  Nobody can figure out who they really are anymore. Notaries will tell endless stories on the forums, but there is always confusion, no matter who says what, or when.  I met someone by phone on the East coast who had a small signing outfit who wanted to change their name and enlarge their scope.  I told him to get a unique name, or keep the same name. Don’t fool around with names.  Names are how people know you and identify you.  If you pick the wrong name, you will be confused with crooks for the rest of your career and you will regret it.
 
Trading places?
Some companies have a similar name to other companies.  The only way to identify the company is by their town.  But, what happens when they move from Irvine to Simi Valley. Then, you completely lose track of who they are.  The confusion is unbearable.  You have to ask them if they “used to be” located in Irvine just to keep them straight.  With my luck, if I’m trying to figure out who a company is, I’ll see all of their various addresses, look them up on google, try to guess which years they were in which place, and then I will find out that they are out of business.
 
Similar names
How can you keep these companies straight?  I give up. It gets too confusing.
 
Notary Direct, & Notaries Direct
 
ASAP Processing, ASAP Settlement, ASAP Loan Docs, ASAP pro notary services & ASAP signing services,
 
Cal docs notary Vs. California notary and doc signers
 
California professional signing group, California signature service, California signing services
 
Central escrow & Central signing service
 
Doc Pro & Doc Pros
 
National Title & National titlenet
 
The bottom line
If a company has a confusing identity, just make sure you get their address.  The address proves who they are, unless they move around a lot.  I would be less inclined to trust a company that moved around too much.  Background check all companies on 123notary.com/S on your mobile phone and then you will know if they have a good track record.  A good history doesn’t guarantee you payment, but its ten times as safe as working for an unknown company!

Tweets:
(1) Some of the most infamous signing companies in the business changed their names. But, the notaries caught on!
(2) Some signing companies have almost an identical name to other ones. The only way to tell them apart is their address.

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September 10, 2011

Notarization in the ‘Hood

Filed under: Humorous Posts — Tags: , , — admin @ 5:54 am

Notarization in the ‘hood 

As a native of Massachusetts, growing up near Boston, I never visited inner city areas until I became a courier at the age of 23.  Boston’s neighborhoods are often places with a lot of danger, hostility, and threats, so we suburbanites are squeemish about going there.  While doing my deliveries in Boston, I kept overhearing talk about violence that had happened, and a few people even threatened me while I was just doing my job.
 
California is a much nicer and warmer place.  People are pleasant in all areas, whether they are wealthy areas like Beverly Hills, or the poorest areas of South Los Angeles.  I even had gangsters here say, “Have a nice day, sir”.  This wouldn’t happen back East.  Being a mobile notary for close to a decade brought me to all parts of many counties in Southern California.  I went to San Bernardino, Victorville, Riverside, Temecula, San Clemente, Palmdale, and all over the place.  My notarizations in the ‘hood, were also fine, but I do have a few stories worth sharing.
 
It was back in 2002.  I had just finished lunch, and I got a call.   It was a signing company that wanted a Los Angeles notary to do a signing done in South Central.  I accepted the job, and went to the signing.  The borrowers already had the documents.  Based on movies like, “Boyz in the ‘hood” and others like it there were filmed down there, I knew that there were dangerous gangs there.  But, I am a neutral party.  I don’t make trouble with them, and they generally don’t pay me any attention either.  But, I’m not from that type of environment, so I don’t know what is normal either.  In my neighborhood we say, “its a nice day today”.  We park on the side of the road, and observe other normalities of what seems normal to us.
 
The gang
I was to go to 43rd Street.  I forget the cross street.  I was a mile away from where I was going, and already on 43rd street.  There was a large car, like a Cadillac, or some other large american car.  It was parked in the middle of the street.  There were six big guys hanging around the car.  They were wearing cut off pants.  Of course in Los Angeles, everyone wears cut offs.  It doesn’t prove that you are a gangster.  Its hard to know who is a real gangster, and who is just for show.  Gang members get beautiful women, so many kids want to look like them.  To know who is a real gangster, I let my stomach tell me. My stomach never lies.  Some say, the gut actually has ganglia, just like the brain, and I believe it.  I could hear the “boom boom” of the stereo.  I didn’t want to go around these guys, since they aparantly had a deed to the road.  I did a U-turn and took 44th street, and then got back to 43rd street.  I guess I have good karma, because nothing too terrible has happened to me anywhere. This is what you get to experience if you are a Los Angeles notary public.
 
The accident
It was another day, and I was driving back from South Los Angeles. It was on La Cienega Blvd near Pico.  Traffic was dense.  A guy rear ends me.  We exchange paperwork.  I lucked out.  The insurance company paid for my repair, plus for some painting work on other areas that had pre-existing damage.  Talk about good karma — or luck, I’m not sure which. 
 
Opposites Attract
I was back in the ‘hood for another notary assignment. I didn’t want to be there after dark.  The notary job started at 6pm and it was May, so I was getting out of there slightly after dark. There are very affluent areas in South Central by the way, with very educated people who have big houses and swimming pools. Many African-Americans have done well as attorneys, doctors, and business people in Los Angeles for decades, and many like to live in or near Baldwin Hills which is bordering South Central.  I went through a run down area, and then to a very nice neighborhood with very nice houses and neatly manicured lawns.  Not a millionaire’s area, but very nice none the less.  The couple was very very nice. The man and woman were opposites.  And opposites attract.  The man was a very studious type.  He had a math degree, and was working on a law degree. The wife was the socialite.  This guy read every letter of every word of every document. He asked a few questions, but was basically engrossed in these documents.  Normally, during this type of signing, I get bored and twiddle my thumbs. But, his wife was really interesting and friendly. She talked to me for over two hours about every subject known to mankind . So, after it was over, I felt that it had been a very pleasant signing. 
 
After the signing was over, I was almost completely out of gas.  No problem, there was a gas station a few blocks away. It was an Arco — and they don’t take credit cards. I prepaid $20 for some gas.  I filled the tank up.  This was obviously a few years ago, becuase you can’t fill anything up for $20, not even a moped these days.  There were six guys walking out from the gas station’s store, and they were not looking very neighborly either.  Each one was about 350 pounds, and they had the look of death on their faces.  There was tension in their walk.  I could tell that they had had some type of altercation with someone, or maybe something worse.  I can tell who people are based on their vibration.  I don’t need people to open their mouths to get to know them.  I decided it was better to look at the ground.  In some cities, staring at someone can get you murdered.  My change was 56 cents after I had filled up.  I didn’t want to be there any more.  I got in my car and left without my change.

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September 7, 2011

What goes WHERE in your notes?

We have close to 7000 notaries, and most of them have written a notes section.  I am always stressing that the length and quality of the notes section strongly effects how many calls you will get.  I recommend a few paragraphs of notes. Browsers want to compare notaries and read through many different profiles before choosing who they will call first. If you leave your notes blank, or only have a few choppy sounding lines of text, I assure you that you will get left behind.    But, there is more.  Experience is very important and should go on top.

What goes at the top?
The first sentence or two of your notes is visable on the search results, and strongly influences readers.  Their decision to click, or not to click is heavily based on the first two lines of notes you wrote, and whether or not you offer 24 hour service, or are certified by 123notary.com.  It’s that important!  If you have reviews will strongly effect how many clicks you get too!  People write about many things in their notes sections. They write about their equipment, their coverage areas, types of loans they are familiar with, and experience.  They might also write about professional memberships, jobs they did before they became a notary, and anything else they think will impress or move a potential client.  If you look at all of these various types of information, there is one that triggers a reaction in the reader most, and that is what separates you from the pack: experience.

Put your experience at the top
If you have a lot of experience, that is the single most important trait that a client looks for.  If you are on the white glove list for some well known large company, that makes a huge impression.  If some other notary covers twenty counties and has some great equipment, that means something, but it doesn’t make up for lost experience.  Any fool can purchase expensive equipment, but how many fools have signed 15,000 loans with a 99.9% error free track record?  Any nitwit can sign a Reverse Mortgage (this is valuable experience by the way), but how many nitwits are on the approved list for some major American Title agency and have 20 years of experience? All pertinent information has a value, but there is a hierarchy to which information is the most valuable, and you need to put the most critical selling information (experience) on the top of the list.

What comes next?  Credentials & memberships
3rd party credibility is key to getting work.  If you say you are good and write well, that counts for more than nothing, but not that much more than nothing. If someone else says you are good, that counts more.  People who are already certified by another agency claim that they don’t “need” 123notary certification, however, to get the credibility of the green certification icon you actually DO “need” our certification.  That is 3rd party credibility from an agency who has been very serious about the notary business for 11 years and has 6500 clients.  Having testimonials is another form of 3rd party credibility.  So, writing about your professional memberships and credentials means a lot, and that comes right after experience.

Coverage Areas
Coverage areas comes third ideally. You can write about where you service, and which areas cost extra.

Specialties is fourth
If you want to put specialties as 3rd instead of 4th, it would be about the same.  Telling the world what types of loans you are familiar with is very important.  If you have a long list of impressive types of loans, you might put it higher on the list just to make an impression. If your specialties are very run of the mill doing refinances and reverse mortgages, etc., then put it third or fourth on the list.

Equipment & Insurance
Equipment can really make a difference and set you apart from the rest of the locals.  However, it is not quite as important as the other things I mentioned unless you have a very impressive mobile office which makes you one in a thousand.  If you have slightly above average equipment, you can mention it at the bottom just to be thorough.  E&O insurance can be put in the equipment section.  If you have a million dollars of E&O, then maybe put it in the first line to knock people’s flip flops off.  If you have been background screened or listed with the BBB, that could go here too.

Other information
If you want to talk about identification, legal considerations, or your unwillingness to give legal advice, put it here.  Parting notes should come here at the bottom as well.  I usually discourage discussing details of your rate structure, but that would be good at the bottom as well.

Here are some interesting things people put in their notes that stood out.

Keep in mind that some of the individuals offering these services are attorneys.

Adoptions; Probate; Preparation of Wills; Trusts;  Movie set notarizations; Constructions loans; Foreclosures; Medical power of attorney.;  Car title Affidavits; Durable powers of attorney;  Time-Share docuements; Rental Property Agreements; e-signings; Inspections; Debt Consolidation;  Courthouses; prisons; hospitals; Balloon mortgages.

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Excerpts from great notes sections
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