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January 13, 2011

Notary Jobs: None Bad, All Bad, Some Good

Notary Jobs: None Bad, All Bad, Some Good
As is often the case I use an unusual title to perk your interest in my current installment. This one focuses on what assignments you actually accept. Yes, it’s you who determines what you do. They make “offers” you have the final decision. Of course when they “walk in” to a place of public accommodation your local laws probably prohibit you from refusing service without a good reason. But, as mobile notaries; our assignments are generally offered over the phone or via email; we are free to accept or decline.

Actually reaching an agreement to None is bad for business; you will have no revenue. If you are a mobile notary that’s probably not the situation you are looking for. The reverse is also true. Accepting All offers, though sometimes tempting; will in the long run be bad for your “bottom line”. A lowballer will never forget your acceptance of a 55$ edoc fee. “Once they see how good a job I do they will be willing to pay more” – that’s a pipe dream.

So, most of us live in the land of Some. Prior installments have discussed the often humorous aspect of some tendered offers. Hopefully, or should it be hopelessly; few of us are willing to drive 150 miles, in the middle of the night, thru a snowstorm; for the princely sum of 75$. Offers of that type remind me of a phrase used when I worked at a brokerage firm with a pet bull. “The cows may come and the cows may go; but the bull is here to stay”.

We need to actively filter the call/email to determine, quickly, the essence of the offer. If you don’t know the what, when and where; merely knowing the dollar amount, is inadequate to make the accept or decline decision. Unless, of course, the offer is for a very low dismissible fee. You need to get the real specifics, nothing can be vague, and nothing can be assumed. I once accepted an offer “in New York” assuming they were referring to within the city. Nope, they wanted me several hundred miles north of the city, hours away. Was it a misunderstanding? Or bull?

Be it misunderstanding, or bull, or a “change” in the specifications; how do you respond. What would be your reaction to the following scenario? They offer your standard rate for an edoc that is not too far from you. They say it’s about 125 pages and there are no special requirements (because you asked). You receive the confirmation and await the docs. Finally the docs arrive and the top page stresses the need to print 3 sets of the 185 page package. One set is for borrower. The other two sets are to be fully executed, and both faxed back “for approval” and when approved a pair of FedEx labels will be sent for shipment. You are also required to remain with the borrower until your faxing is approved. Probably the SS did not know the additional tasks, and, let’s assume relayed accurately all they knew.

Are you stuck with a wet baby on your lap? Of course not, it’s “bounce back” time; or they must greatly increase the fee. I would require an immediate PayPal full payment; fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. It’s very hard to actually receive at a later date a fee that was raised from the initial offer. The “miscommunications” is not your fault, or problem.

Thus, even when you take care to select Some, bad things can happen. It is how you react, and what you now demand (yup demand – if they want you to stick with it); that determines if you will be exploited or paid fairly for the work involved. Don’t let “their” problem become yours.


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  1. The whole signing agent designation started off on the wrong foot. I can’t imagine that attorneys accept a set, flat fee for appts. We should be billing as they do, intelligently, that means charging for the pages, the time, how many signers there are, travel, faxes per page, and down to the phone calls at a price per minute ‘plus a dollar’, and then the base fee which covers all our other expenses. Each appt. would be different. It is stupid for a notary to accept a low fee because of the volume of work you get from one place, OR to lower a fee for any reason, WE ARE NOT SELLING MERCHANDISE, like pencils by the gross, we are selling services where our expenses are FIXED accordingly. Please get this through your heads! It is hard to make a profit with set fees which requires lots of scrutiny on our part before accepting an assignment. While it is said that we cannot unionize or ‘price fix’, somehow, signing services and others in the industry can. Not right. at Also, regarding granting credit, that is not our business and we should charge for that too if they can’t pay on pay pal now. It is up to us to change it all. It is doubtful we will ever get popular support. As notaries graduate as signing agents, I would like to give them a seminar on expenses or hold this seminar at one of those conferences given by a big organization we all know. They’d never approve that though. Maybe I will start charging for such a course since it seems that most notaries out there have NO business experience. Given this knowledge, they (newbies) will never cooperate with low ball companies. We have to get to them and prepare them for what’s ahead, businesswise.

    Comment by Dan Serbin — April 25, 2015 @ 4:16 pm

  2. Kenneth: I agree with your points, but disagree with how we can change the environment. We are professionals, but not on he same level as attorneys, doctors and accountants who charge several hundred dollars per hour, or tens of thousands of dollars per case or procedure. Most notaries only go through a few hours of training, complete a short 30-question test, and a background check to get their commission. Signing agents are a step above a basic notary and should be able to charge accordingly, but here’s the challenge: Signing Service ABC tries to find a qualified SA for a very complex signing. The SA tells them he needs to increase the fee for his time, but the SS can’t pay that amount – they have already given their price quote to the Escrow Co. So, they look through online notary listings, find a basic notary who is new, naive and willing to do the job for the lower price. As far as the SS is concerned, they have done their job and they move on to the next scheduling with no remorse. This is how the landscape is today, and I don’t see any change in the near future.

    Comment by John — April 25, 2015 @ 5:31 pm

  3. Dan,
    Very well put. While we can’t “price fix” our RATES, you wonderfully cover the issue of using a common methodology to determine pricing. Bravo! As to your seminar: Web based teaching of students who prepay to join the session is cost effective to all involved. Let me know when you are having a session, this old dog wants to learn new tricks.
    ken (kene at pobox dot com)

    Comment by Kenneth Edelstein — May 3, 2015 @ 1:00 pm

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