Meet Maria Ganci, a Certified Notary Signing Agent in Mastic Beach, New York. With over 10,000 loan signings under her belt, Maria offers some valid insight into what it takes to be a successful signing agent. She has the advantage of being tri-lingual: fluent in English, Spanish and Italian!
Certified Notary Signing Agent
Mastic Beach, New York
Q: Maria, when did you start your notary business?
A: 9 years ago.
Q: Why did you decide to become a notary?
A: In my previous job, I was always looking for notaries to notarize business documents so I decided to take the test and help them out. Then I discovered this notary loan signing agent segment and started doing this part time. I began working full time three years ago.
Q: Do you remember your first signing experience?
A: Yes, I was very nervous, and after the signing I must have checked the documents 100 times before I sent them out.
Q: Is your business full time or part time?
A: Full time when there’s enough business.
Q: How many hours a week do you work now compared to when the industry is bustling?
A: It used to be 30 to 40 hours per week. Now it’s about that much per month. When the industry is thriving, I do three to four times more work per month.
Q: Do you work with signing companies?
A: Yes, many of them.
Q: What percentage of your business is loan signings, legal, medical, other?
A: 98% loan signings; the rest is spread out between medical, legal and other.
Q: If you don’t mind sharing, what do you average for a loan signing?
A: It’s hard to average and depends on the work involved and distance traveled, but I’d say I can earn from $50 dollars up to $250.
Q: Do you have a minimum fee?
A: No, I accept the companies base fee as long as it’s not more then 35 miles away.
Q: Have any changes in the industry or economy affected you?
A: Yes. I registered at Suffolk County College to further educate myself just in case the industry doesn’t pick up next year. At least I have a Plan B.
Q: How are you countering negative changes?
A: I’m applying with more agencies, title companies and going back to school to further educate myself.
Q: Do you have a business plan?
A: Not formally. My plan now is more marketing. I’m working on a business flyer which I’ll be sending to all agencies, title companies, and real estate companies, letting them know that I’m still available.
Q: What percentage of your net income do you spend on advertising?
Q: Where and how do you advertise?
A: On my own website and listings, of course, MariaGanci.com, plus National Notary Association, 123notary, and GoGetNotary. I also use a lot of business cards.
Q: What professional organizations do you belong to?
A: 123notary, National Notary association and GoGetNotary.
Q: What skills or traits are essential for a notary to succeed?
A: You must be attentive, professional, and empathetic.
Q: What is the biggest misconception about a career as a notary?
A: One thing I don’t like, the line you hear over and over again: “Oh, you’re just a notary.” When you consider this a career not a hobby and you care about being professional, educated and watching over every detail, it’s not as easy as everyone makes it out to be.
Q: What advice would you give a notary starting today?
A: Be patient, relax, and do your best. Don’t put any undo pressure on yourself.
Q: What advice would you give a notary who wants to take their business to the next level?
A: This may sound contrary for an experienced notary, but in this market, accept base fees from agencies, lenders, title and signing companies. Money is tight everywhere. When I say that to them I hear in their voices that they are happy to hear it, and they always say that they will call me and pass my number to their co-workers for future closings.
Q: What books are tops on your recommended reading list?
A: NNA’s Notary Law & Practice: Cases & Materials and various notary newsletters.
Q: What has been your most unusual/memorable signing experience so far?
A: There was one signing that I will never forget. When I arrived at this closing a gentleman opened the door for me. I saw his glassy eyes and asked if everything okay. That’s when his wife came out of her room, crying, too. She started telling me that their 30-year-old son was in the hospital, dying of cancer. She was crying so much that she made me cry and we were just hugging each other. The husband said they had to refinance because they needed the money for his funeral. That was the hardest closing I ever did. I’ve had some unusual ones but that was certainly the most memorable.
Q: Looking back over the past nine years, what would you say has been the key to your success so far?
A: It’s attitude: being patient and always smiling.
Thanks so much for your time, Maria. I know many notaries will find your comments insightful and will give them some food for thought.
To learn more about Maria, please visit her GGN website.