Paul Williamson, managing partner and CNSA of PAW Notary Services in Zephyrhills, Florida, is our Featured Notary for April. Some of you may know Paul from the great car magnets you’ve ordered from him to promote your notary business. Paul is very generous with his support of other notaries; he’s opened the directory on his website so you can add a link to your GoGetNotary web page without giving him a reciprocal link. This is a wonderful example of the “notaries helping notaries” philosophy!
Paul Williamson PAW Notary Services
Q: Paul, thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to speak with us. Let’s start with when you began your notary business?
A: As a Notary Signing Agent – 2001.
Q: Why did you decide to become a notary?
A: It started with my work at the bank (though I was primarily in operations and customer service management) and being a signing agent became a natural extension to that.
Q: What was your first signing experience?
A: “Miserable Millennium Mortgage” (large package) with four signers, two very elderly. Took a long time due to inexperience on my part, the size of the package and the borrowers. Guess you could say this was my initiation into the signing agent industry.
Q: Is your business full time or part time?
A: Full time as of May, 2002.
Q: How many hours a week do you work?
A: Too many! 50-60 hours average.
Q: Do you work with signing companies?
A: Just a few.
Q: What percentage of your business is loan signings, legal, medical, other?
A: 95% of my business is associated with real estate transactions, including loan signings and purchases.
Q: If you don’t mind sharing, what do you average for a loan signing?
A: An average would be very misleading as there are too many variables in play. For example, time to close varies with the type of signing: purchase, refi, RM, etc.
Q: Do you have a minimum fee?
A: Yes. My fee structure starts with a base fee for a single transaction signing. Add to that, travel, printing/copying, second transaction, extended wait times and special circumstances, such as “emergency” same day signings.
Q: How have changes in the industry or economy affected you?
A: With the increase in NSAs in my area and the declining market, I am exploring other income opportunities, but will continue as an NSA.
Q: How do you overcome those changes?
A: As best I can, with the tools that I have. Exploring other opportunities should always be done as, depending on where you live, the cyclical nature of real estate can affect your income.
Q: Do you have a business plan?
A: I always start a new business venture with a business plan. It is business suicide to do otherwise.
Q: What percentage of your net income do you spend on advertising?
A: Very little (probably less than 10%) of income dollars are spent advertising (excluding the cost to maintain a website). The biggest cost in advertising has been the time to do it.
Q: Where do you advertise?
A: 85% or more of my advertising is through direct mailing (both email and snail mail) to my potential clients. Other than that the only other advertising I’ve been doing is web presence, vehicle signs and posting of “flyers” in local shops and stores.
Q: How do you network?
A: Effectively. I have a good working relationship with many notaries in the area and across the country. These relationships have been developed over time through message boards and forums, and through common work experiences.
Q: What professional organizations do you belong to?
A: American Bankers Association, Mortgage Bankers Association of America, American Society of Notaries and the Signing Registry.
Q: What advice would you give a notary starting today?
A: First and foremost, know your notary laws and how to actually perform notarial acts. Then learn what a Signing Agent does, how the job is performed and what to expect. I personally recommend the Signing Registry Professional Skills Training Guide to everyone coming into this industry as well as for those who have been here for a while. In my opinion, it is the most comprehensive training tool available on the market, written by and for Notary Signing Agents.
Q: What was your most unusual/memorable signing experience?
A: I really enjoy meeting with the people that I sign. Most of all, the seniors who are closing their Reverse Mortgages. So much so, that I’m working towards being a Reverse Mortgage Consultant for Wells Fargo.
Thanks for your time, Paul, and for offering your insight into the world of notary signing agents.