Guest Post: On Notary Signing Agent Fees

This is from Jennifer Glover, owner of Prestige Notaries, a signing service. It’s so very true, so spot on, so wise that I cheered when I read it.

 I read a lot of posts about fees, we all do, and while I agree that making more money is always beneficial, there seems to be a lot of shaming going on and a LOT of misinformation. So here we go.

Not one person has the right to shame another for working and paying their bills. We all have personal situations that others do not know about. We all have different levels of experience, different cost of living, different money management, different levels of service, and the list goes on.

Each person must determine for themselves how much they need to average per signing. Then they should take into consideration their business expenses

Expenses include: commission, business license, insurance, bond, certifications, training, printer, toner, paper, pens, clips, folders, admin time, bookkeeping, mileage, square footage of home office and the cost to run that office utilities, a business only computer, business cards, marketing materials, website, encrypted email, business cellular or percentage of use, other mobile tools, association dues, listing fees, and more.

There are all sorts of notaries out there.

The notaries that excel at building their book of business, they go after the work, they are salespeople, they market themselves and their fees will reflect the work that they have put in to build their book of business.

Then there are those notaries who prefer the work to come to them, maybe they are great notaries, but they don’t do well promoting their business, they want someone else to do it for them. They might see less work unless they work with a signing service, so their fees will often reflect the work that they have put in.

Then there is the in-betweener, the notary that just likes to bust their tail, takes as much work as they can get, promotes their business and always answers the phone. These are the notaries that irritate so many people because they will take fees from low to high, they just like to stay busy and make money.

I will give you examples.

I, myself, worked only with title companies. I got up every day and dressed for the day whether or not I had any appointments. I drove to different offices several days a week to introduce myself and talk to decision makers. I sold myself and I was good at it. I spent hours upon hours driving and selling. I was not compensated for that time, so the fees that I charged when I received a call was a set fee. It was non-negotiable. I was always pleasant when someone tried to negotiate, but I simply explained that my fees were set and if they needed me in the future to please call. And I was busy.

Then I know a few notaries who work for local services who are guaranteed an average of 8 signings a day for less than half what I was charging. They never complained about their fees, in fact they were very happy with the stability and their net income, They were still netting $50/hr and where else can you make $50/hr or even $30/hr with little training and without a high school education? I never got mad at them for accepting fees less than half mine, because they had determined what was important to them and I didn’t know their circumstances.

Now, to discuss a lot of the misinformation I have been reading lately.

1) Title companies can be deadbeat too, don’t let them fool you. Just because they are a title company does not mean they pay fairly or timely.

2) Don’t always believe the fee you see on the Closing Disclosure. Reasons for increased fees a) application signing lumped into one notary fee, b) shipping provided by service lumped into notary fee, c) some title companies add a buffer “just in case” and any overage is reimbursed to the consumer, d) and then sometimes it is just a mystery. I have had closings come over where an extra $100 to $150 is on the notary fee and I wonder where it’s going, because it wasn’t what I agreed to…..

3) Not all notary fees are paid by the consumer. Many title companies pay the mobile notary fee from their settlement services fee. I see this most often on Refinances, Seller, and Office signings. If the fee is being paid by the title company then 8 out of 10 offices care what is being charged.

Most Closers are paid bonus based on the revenue from their files, so if they pay a notary $75 instead of $150 then their bonus is higher. Most large companies bonus closers based on how they compare to other closers who work for the same company, or they give them awards and recognize them. So the more revenue they make their company, the better they bonus and the more recognition they get.

At the end of the day we are all entrepreneurs; we are small business owners; we are independent. We get to do exactly what we want to do so long as it is legal. Figure out YOUR price point, value yourself, and be happy.

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On Working the Lists 

On Working the Lists

One of the things that many notaries (and other small business people) do not understand is that a great deal of your success hinges on your ability to find and work through lists of prospective clients.

Find New ClientsSo, this is my attempt to explain some of how you can do what you must do — working the lists.

Begin with the lists of potential clients you can find. (See below for my articles about finding lists.)

Compile your own list of potential clients from every comment made in every notary group that you can find on Facebook. (After you join a group, scroll back through it for the past year or eighteen months. Make notes as you go along on the name and any other information about every possible hiring firm mentioned, including how many NSAs said positive or negative things about the firm.)

Hiring firms may be title or escrow companies, signing services, lenders, or others (such as lawyers).

Any list you find or create is going to be just a starting point. You will always have to work the list to find possible clients who fit with how you do business. This is a basic of business  — no matter where you get a list, it contains some junk.

On the process for screening or qualifying potential clients, take some classes on business basics from the Small Business Development Center nearest you. Find them on sba.gov .

Also,  check with the public library where you are. They may offer free classes for new or small business.

Research every entry on whatever list you find, as well as any list you compile yourself. Put them through a process to screen out ones that are obviously bad fits for your business. Sign up directly with those who are good fits.

Keep a list of who you sign up with and their info and when you signed up. Follow up with them a week after you signed up to see if they have everything they need to send you work. Follow up about once a month after that.

Follow up with them every time your address or phone number or email address changes; and whenever you renew your notary commission, insurance, or credentials (certifications, classes completed, background screenings or background checks passed).

Keep doing the research and signing up and following up until you’re too busy with work or until you decide it’s not working and quit.


Articles Here About Lists of Clients

If it seems that I’ve written several articles about lists of potential clients for Notary Signing Agents, that’s because I have.

To make it easier to find and share them, I am listing them here.

Lessons in Marketing – Lists

Where Should Notary Signing Agents Sign Up?

Where to Sign Up – Part 2

Where’s the List of Good Clients?

Why I Will Not Share my Client List on Facebook

Where is the Reliable List of Deadbeat Firms?

Some Suggestions on Business Basics

How to Find a List of Lenders for Possible NSA Work  (The suggestions in there could also be used to find title companies or escrow companies, as well, as they are also regulated by the states where they are active.)

Training for Notary Signing Agents – Part 3 (This is the only part of that series that specifically deals with lists, at least so far, and it contains links near the end to Parts 1 and 2).

And, while I did not write it (Brenda Stone did), this excellent article about Marketing to Title Companies will  help you put together a list of title companies, escrow companies, and/or lenders who are active in your area, which is more useful than any generic list you might find somewhere else.


If you found this article to be useful, please share it — and subscribe to this blog (or follow if you are on WordPress) so that you don’t miss any of the upcoming articles to be posted here.

 

 

 

 

 

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WNFIN 2017  – Day 0

I’m getting set up to participate in Write Non-Fiction In November (also known as WNFIN or NaNonFiWriMo), the non-fiction version of National Novel Writing Month (AKA NaNoWriMo or simply NaNo). It starts tomorrow.

In addition to writing a whole book in November, I’m signing up with new clients and working on a bunch of other stuff.

What this means is y’all won’t see me much on Facebook in November. I’m going to do the airplane mode on my phone when I’m writing and I will limit my time on all social media, as well as time spent watching tv.

The last time I did this (in 2015), my wife Barbara Gatewood encouraged me to do it. I met the challenge and finished the first draft of American Notary Basics. Editing that first draft was among my top three choices of possible projects this time — both to get it done and available for publishing and to honor the memory of Barbara (who passed away in 2016). 

However, after due consideration, I’ve decided to write a new book, instead. This one has been bugging me to be written for the past year. And I’m going to write it by hand in the notebook that I’ve been keeping since the idea first stole up and grabbed me. That will allow me to write without being chained to my desk — and I can edit it when I type it up later. 

And whichever book is published first will be dedicated to Barbara’s memory. 

So, y’all have a great November. Look for updates on my progress via my blogs at Notary Memphis and at Minister Is A Verb. 

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When You Need a Notary in Memphis

When You Need a Notary in Memphis, Contact Notary Memphis

Notary Memphis is a mobile notary service provided by Tim Gatewood. I have been a notary public here in Shelby County, Tennessee, for over 20 years and I currently offer services in Shelby, Fayette, and Tipton Counties.

If you or your family member are in a nursing home or a hospital and you need a power of attorney or advance care directive or Will notarized, I can come to you at a very reasonable cost and get that taken care of for you. Please see my article about Hospital Notary Work for details of that.

If you are an employee or manager or owner of a business and you need something notarized at work, I can come to you for the same reasonable mobile notary fee and help you get it done.

If you are at a school or church function and you need a release or permission slip or some other document notarized, I will be happy to travel to you and notarize your document.

If you are a shut-in, I can come to your home.

If you just prefer to have the convenience of having the notary come to you and you don’t mind paying the trip fee for this service, my mobile notary service is just what you need.

OR, if you would rather have basic general notary services and save the trip fee by coming to me, I can often be found in the 38115, 38119, or 38125 zip codes (unless I am out providing mobile notary services somewhere else).

Please see my article How My Notary Service Works for details of my mobile notary service and general notary services.

I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for your time and consideration.

(Updated December 20, 2017)

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Why I Will Not Share My Client List on Facebook 

Why I Will Not Share My Client List on Facebook (or any other online site)

For various reasons, I am a member of about a dozen notary-related groups on Facebook. There are hundreds of people in most of those groups. Only some of us participate by posting or commenting on posts from other people. While you can readily see who the members of each group are (if you are a member of the group), that does not mean you know if they are competitors or notaries in another jurisdiction.

So, unless you’ve spent hours compiling a list of all the members and then looked them up to see where they’re from, you really have no idea how much competition from your area is in a group reading what you post. Anything you post in any of the groups could well be seen by dozens of other notaries in your service area, some of whom may be just hungry enough to take what you give freely and use it to undercut you with your clients.

Also, let’s be clear about this: the internet is essentially one big copying machine. Once you post something online, you lose control over what happens to it. It does not matter that you have the legal copyright; there is nothing to physically stop people from sharing it or copying it or printing it out. So, even if everyone in THIS group is out of my service area, that does not mean that what I post will stay in this group and not be seen by competitors who are in my area.

For those who are in different jurisdictions, my client list may well be worthless to them, because the firms that hire me may not even operate where they are.

Also, a fee that I might find perfectly acceptable here may be low for their area; a firm that always pays me on time may find reasons or excuses to not pay other notaries; the requirements of my clients (which I have become proficient at fulfilling) may be deal-breakers to other NSAs; and so on.

In short, my list would require you to do the same research before you use it as any other list you find.

Why would any small business person give away something that they spent years developing and that is the key to their success, especially knowing it may not even help the person asking for it ?

My client list is proprietary information, meaning, it belongs to me. I have written several articles about how to find or create your own lists. You can find these articles if you use the Search function of this website and search by the word “list.” Here are some recent examples:

Where Should Notary Signing Agents Sign Up?

Where to Sign Up – Part 2

Where’s The List of Good Clients?

Where is the Reliable List of Deabeat Firms?

How to Find a List of Lenders for Possible NSA Work 

Also, here is an excellent article by Brenda Stone (which the American Association of Notaries published) on Marketing to Title Companies. It tells you how to find the title companies that are active in your county.

It’s up to you to take those lists, work them through your own process of research to vet or qualify the firms on the list you receive, then sign up with the ones that pass your research & vetting process.

No one who is successful is giving away a list of their good clients to competitors. It just is not done for all the reasons stated above.

House made of Twenty Dollar Bills

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