Our Featured Notary for December is Sue Hasseler. Sue is a Certified Notary Signing Agent whose business, A+ Mobile Notary, is based in Duarte, California. She puts her energy into taking care of her customers and continued marketing.
A+ Mobile Notary
Q: Sue, when did you get started as a notary?
A: I started my business in the early part of 2004. I began putting together my business, A+ Mobile Notary, even before I took the National Notary Association seminar and State exam. I believe that by doing the footwork and starting anywhere towards my goal brings results.
Q: Why did you decide to become a notary?
A: I had a major accident rollerblading; it took 15 surgeries to put this “Humpty Dumpy” back together again. I had my business, Stephen Lab Services, for 13 years. This was my dental lab specializing in Orthodontic retainers. I have been making retainers since 1978. I was 2 years old (heh-heh-heh). The pain and destruction of my neck and shoulders was too much for me and I had to close Stephen Lab Services which nearly destroyed me emotionally.
When I was starting to rise out of the physical destruction, I needed to focus on what would I possibly be able to do in the future for employment with all my limitations (sitting hurts for long periods, typing is a killer too). I needed something I could do with movement and people. Since I can’t sing or act, my best friend, Susan of Susan’s Mobile Notary (shameless plug), suggested I give this a try. I decided to go on ride-alongs with her while I was recuperating to see what it was. I never thought I could do this because I always felt stupid when it came to paperwork such as this. I would have rather had a root canal then go through escrow or refinance because of the loan papers. Go figure! So I signed up for the National Notary Association seminar/exam. I was there taking it while I was in so much pain, 10 on the pain scale. It’s been so hard to focus, but God willing and lots of prayers, I got through it and passed the exam the first time. I was thrilled.
Q: What was your first signing experience?
A: Before I ever went on my first signing I took the National Notary Association Certified Loan Signing Agent Course and Exams online. This is an outstanding course and prepared me in depth for signings.
I was very nervous but knowing myself well enough, I need all the help I can get. Susan had taught me to flag all of the signing/initial spots with sticky notes as I downloaded the docs. The signings themselves were actually smooth; it was all the e-doc downloads and preparing the docs with flags that was anxiety-producing. Thank God I could do that alone in the comfort of my own office, and double Thank God that I had a mentor, Susan, to guide me through the process on the phone before I meet with the clients.
Today I don’t need to flag docs at all. They have become a working part of my brain now and I’m very comfortable with all types of loan docs.
Q: Is your business full time or part time?
A: This is my full time career and I absolutely LOVE it!
Q: How many hours a week do you work?
A: As many hours as I can. This is such a fluctuating business with the end of the month being the busiest. I don’t turn down a signing ever. If I’m unable to do the signing myself because I am booked already, it’s important for me to help the client by finding a backup notary to cover for me. They really appreciate this and see that I am putting their needs first. Some weeks really end up working me and then others are smooth sailing. It’s organization, organization and more organization that make all the difference in the world.
Q: Do you work with signing companies?
A:Oh yes. They have really been helpful especially in the beginning. They are a lot of work, and the pay is less but I believe that building a business/career is hard work and takes saying “yes” to all reasonable requests. I have turned down work for Di-tech who wanted to pay $40 for a signing. This doesn’t even cover the download costs of e-docs. I am grateful for the reputable signing services.
Q: What percentage of your business is loan signings, legal, medical, other?
A:I would say 85% of my business is loan signings. I love doing them and this seems to be my nitch. The rest are legal and medical.
Q: If you don’t mind sharing, what do you average for a loan signing?
A:I don’t mind at all. I charge: $125 for the 1st loan, $60 for the 2nd set and $50 for download of e-docs (loan docs emailed to me). Most signings are one loan and download docs which comes to $175. I include 50 miles of travel and charge $1.50 a mile after that.
Q: Do you have a minimum fee?
A:Yes, from a signing service the lowest I work for is $65.
Q: How have changes in the industry or economy affected you?
A: Well, here it is, I live a very spiritual life and believe that God is my source. Changes are always happening and I can choose to fight them or panic over them, or I can accept what is, get busy and look for more footwork to build to my business and do it. I learned from a very wise person, “If you are in need of a job, then you make looking for a job your full time job.”
Q: So from that answer, it sounds like you accept but adapt.
A: And I pray for courage and strength to get through the rough times. I get busy with doing any footwork towards improving my business and then when all else fails I attempt to do a kind act for someone else. There’s nothing better to forget your own problems then doing something for someone else. Even listening to their life situations is a kind act in the right direction,
Q: Do you have a business plan?
A: Yes, I set goals and as I reach them, then I seek new goals and move towards them. It would take too long to describe all of the steps I used so far.
Q: What percentage of your net income do you spend on advertising?
A: In the beginning I was spending about 75% on advertising and had a loss the first year. I needed to learn what worked and what didn’t work. I had never worked with websites and costs so I was way out of whack. It took a while to get that organized. Now it’s at a much better working level. I can’t really tell what the percentage is but its nowhere what is was.
Q: Where do you advertise and market your notary service
A:What can I say: Website, Website, Website! I started with just a website that I tried to designed and found out I’m much better at other things. I paid for a professional to do my website and it has been worth every penny, dime, nickel and 100 dollar bill it took. I have received calls from all over the United States from people who came across my website and wanted to let me know how great it was.
The other areas have been with good signing services and last year I put an ad in the Yellow Book. I haven’t been pleased with the yellow page advertising as it has brought out people who are shopping for a price. Which is fine but it hasn’t brought enough business to pay for the advertising itself. I am trying it for a second year as the book is being changed and covering a larger area, so I want to give it another chance.
Q: How do you network?
A:I am the co-founder of a group of notaries called Notaries Helping Notaries. We started this two years ago. It’s a group of notaries who refer amongst ourselves when we are unable to do a signing for a client. Our motto is to never leave the client without a notary. If I’m already busy at the time they need me, then I can call one of the other notaries on our phone list to fill the job for this client. The client is then so appreciative because they don’t have to continue looking for a notary and our own personal business looks very good for helping them out. We meet from time to time to keep the our referral energies active. I also attend seminars and business meetings for lenders, mortgage companies, etc., to introduce my business to other groups.
Q: What professional organizations do you belong to?
A:I belong to Notaries Helping Notaries, American Society of Notaries, National Notary Association, NNA’s Signing Agent section, and Better Business Bureau.
Q: What advice would you give a notary starting today?
A:Hang in there with the notary profession. Be patient with yourself, Get your face, name, and phone number out there. Be thorough, honest and do not take short cuts with signings. Our work is very important and the future holds much more for us to do. Every negative activity in the world has a bright outcome to it. With all the ID theft and fraudulent loan signings happening, our work is vital to help the world be a safer place to live in. Focus on being of service and the rest falls into place with footwork.
Q: What advice would you give a notary who wants to take their business to the next level?
A: Go for it! I thought I would be too overwhelmed to do this type of work. Boy, was I wrong. Going to the next level on anything, business, exercise, character building, all takes prayer, footwork and humility. I am of the belief that if you shoot for the moon and miss then you will at least have a beautiful view of the stars. Reaching up and out for the next level of being a notary, took me into being a Certified Notary Signing Agent, which I love being. Now I am applying for Ambassadorship for the NNA. Again, I am going to attempt to become an instructor for the NNA. I didn’t make it at my first attempt but that will not keep me from going for it again.
I’m now going with computerized journal and seal. This is a major break through for notaries, and I want to be on the forefront of the ever changing profession. We are very fortunate people to have such ground-breaking opportunities ahead of us. Lets all go for it!
Q: What was your most unusual/memorable signing experience?
A: Oh, wow. Each one brings back such memories. The most unusual has been going to any length to provide the signing services to a client. The time would be when a client and family was traveling down through Southern California and needed the docs signed in a Walmart parking lot before they left Los Angeles. It was 105 degrees and we were melting in the heat. The pens we used to sign with were hot to the touch. Yes, it would have been sensible to go into the store and sign there, but he had small kids with him and his truck was filled with camping gear and he couldn’t leave any of it there by itself. So we melted and he gave me the most beautiful flat of fresh strawberries I’ve ever seen. They were from Northern California and tasted so goooooood.
The most memorable: just all of my incredible clients, agents and friends that I have made over the years as a notary.
Q: What books are tops on your recommended reading list?
A:Without a doubt: National Notary Association’s Notary Signing Agent Certificate Course Book. It’s sold as part of the Certified SA program. It’s indispensable. And most important: Any and all books I write in the future. Don’t laugh: It could happen. Shoot for the Moon!
Thanks, Sue, for taking the time to answer our questions. Your enthusiasm for your career certainly comes through your responses!
Check out her website for a creative take on providing “speedy” service. To learn more about Sue, visit her GGN website.