The 3AM Notary Service “Shopper”
Having the 24 Hour designation carries the responsibility to live up to the claim. You must answer the phone when it rings at all times. That usually requires the cell phone to be bedside in its charger. But how do you handle the 3AM caller? Obviously a rude and surely response is very inappropriate. YOU gave them permission to call at all hours. If you don’t want those calls, don’t claim to be a 24 hour notary.
Most of my wee hour calls are genuine emergencies. It’s very common for applicants for many municipal jobs to need their “profile” notarized. Many notice this late, very late. They have to have their application notarized for a 6AM interview. I also often receive Power of Attorney signing requests at hospitals, surgery will be in the early AM; and a Power of Attorney is needed ASAP. Also common are the permission forms for one parent to take the child out of the country; notarized permission from the non-flying parent is required. The list goes on and on.
In this environment there are conflicting interests at work. The caller wants the best possible service at the lowest price. I want to maximize both my revenue and amount of sleep. For me to get dressed and go out it has to be a “sure thing”. PayPal prepayment is that sure thing. All “wee hour” callers are required to pay prior to my departure. That eliminates their desire to continue to price shop while I am in route; and a subsequent cancellation.
But not every caller wishes to commit and prepay during the initial contact. Some actually say they wish to make some more calls to price shop and might call me back “later”. Not wanting to be woken a second time for the same assignment; I tell them that a subsequent call will add 50$ to my quoted fee. That usually changes a shopper into a prepay. I know they made over a dozen calls just to get a live person answering the phone. If they wish to continue to price shop that’s fine with me, but there is a penalty for calling back and waking me a second time. Others never call back; that’s fine too. I’m back to sleep in moments.
It’s important to stress that your quoted fee is valid only during the current call. Let your caller know that in addition to having a “callback soon fee” you also have much lower rates during more reasonable hours. It’s difficult to remember all that must be conveyed when you are awake for 30 seconds. A bedside “punch list” or script – makes sure the essentials are covered.
This blog entry would be incomplete without covering the issue of fairness. Your price should never take into account the urgency or circumstances of the caller. Taking advantage of someone in dire circumstances is a sure way to develop a rotten reputation. Of course a 3AM fee will be higher than a 3PM fee. But it should be your standard fee for wee hour callers. Your logbook can defend the rate charged and being your standard for the nature of the service provided; taking into account the time of day.
24 hour service can be both rewarding and exhausting. A call that takes you from a sound sleep to scraping the ice from the windshield can make a near zombie of you for the rest of the day. But, meeting and solving a desperate situation has many rewards. You “stand out” from the crowd as one willing to meet the need, anywhere and anytime; worthy of the title Notary Public.