By Barry Silver—”How do I get signings?” has to be the most often asked questioned I receive as the owner/operator of signing company and that is usually followed by the comment, “I have signed up with at least 200 signing services, but I’m not getting any calls. How do I get started?” There is ever so much more to this than being appointed to the office of notary, receiving a stamp, and sending correspondence to 200 companies to let them know you are available.
Regardless of how this sounds, you must know the notary laws of your state. I believe most notaries are conscientious and familiarize themselves with the basic notary laws, but there are a very large number of notaries public who believe all they have to do is sign their names and stamp the documents. This couldn’t possibly be further from the truth. There are instances where you may come across a notarial certificate that meets the law of the state where it originated; however, it might not meet the required notarial wording for the state in which it is being executed. You need to know what you are allowed to use. What happens when you receive a request to notarize a document for a blind person? What happens when you have a disabled person who is unable to sign for himself and does not have anyone to sign for him? These situations do occur, and as a notary public, you will need to be prepared for them.
The notary signing agent, however, must also be familiar with various types of documents that do not require notarization because you are there to witness the entire closing, not just provide the notarizations. Know the laws of your state regarding married couples, non-borrowing spouses, vested owners, and who has to sign what documents. With a thorough knowledge of your state’s laws, you are better prepared to be a notary signing agent.
“All right! Enough with knowing the law! How do I get companies to call me?” How do companies know they should call you? What have you done besides send a few companies information telling them you are a signing agent who looks forward to serving them? Be prepared for whatever closing you are assigned. Be aware that there is some expense in putting yourself in business.
- Do you have a laser printer?
- Is your laser printer dual drawer? (This is not necessary, but it is helpful.)
- Do you have Cable, DSL, or other high speed internet?
- Do you have a cell phone where you can always be reached?
- Do you have fax capabilities for receiving and transmitting?
- Do you keep letter and legal size paper available?
- Do you have blue and black ink ball point pens?
- Does your state allow Electronic Notarizations?
The more versatility and flexibility you have to meet the needs of the varying companies with the aforementioned capabilities, the better your chances are for getting calls when you make yourself known!
ADVERTISE! ADVERTISE! ADVERTISE! If you do not let others out there know you are available with all this knowledge and capability, then how will they know to call you? Question: “I have contacted 200 companies, so why aren’t they calling me?” Answer: You have not contacted enough companies! You have not maximized your advertising capabilities! There are thousands of signing companies, hundreds of thousands of title companies and lenders to be contacted. How do you stretch the advertising dollars to reach the largest number of potential clients? At the risk of repeating myself, ADVERTISE! ADVERTISE! ADVERTISE!
There are quite a few effective websites that advertise notaries’ services for them. Spend those ADVERTISING DOLLARS on Premier Listings with those websites. Many signing services, title companies, settlement agencies, and lenders go directly to these websites to locate notaries public. Since Premier listings are at the top, and people tend to call what they see first, you will find this is money well spent. Premier listings may receive 2-3 times more calls than do Basic members. Many times notary signing agents see the return on their investments the very first time they receive a signing from having advertised on these websites. If the caller does not tell you how you were located, then be certain to ask the caller how he found you. This will help you to know with which websites you should renew your memberships.
WRITE A COMPLETE PROFILE! You’re paying for more than just the space to advertise your name. You are paying for the chance to tell prospective clients what you offer. Be certain, when given the opportunity to write your own comments, to tell them what they are getting. Be certain to use key words, but use them only if you are accurately describing yourself.
- Detail Oriented or Attention to Detail
- Guaranteed Accuracy
Be certain to advertise your pertinent previous experience such as licensed realtor, mortgage broker, insurance agent, or if you hold a title/producer’s license, or whatever other experience you have that will convey to the prospective client that you are familiar with documents and you know how to address them for accuracy, detail, and completeness. Your profile tells the prospective client about your ability to communicate effectively with others. While this may sound petty to you, I never go to the notaries who have spelling errors or misuse capital and lower case letters in their profiles. Some companies believe if notary signing agents make errors there, then they will make errors during the signing. Some companies believe that an empty profile (one where there are no notary comments) illustrates an inability to effectively communicate and will not contact that notary signing agent.
Take a Signing Agent class; take several. Please spend the bucks to do so. While this does not guarantee that you will get work, it will help you to better understand the types of documents you will see and what it is that has to be done with them.
You should know the saturation of your market; in other words, how many other notary signing agents are available in the areas you service? How is the mortgage market doing in your area and in general? These may seem like minute details to you, but they do have an impact on whether there is enough work to go around.
After you have completed a signing, please go through each page of the documents, with the borrowers present, to be certain you did not miss a signature or a place that has to be initialed. It is easier to correct the problem there than to have to inconvenience and annoy everyone later. Before you send the documents out, please check them again. The best way to ensure that a client will call you to facilitate a signing again and again is to do the job correctly the first time, and do it correctly every time. Build a good reputation! Do only what is legal! Some notaries are asked to backdate the documents or they will “never be called again!” Never allow your professionalism or integrity to be compromised regardless of the amount of work a company promises you!
Know your state notary law; familiarize yourself with loan documents; have the necessary tools and equipment needed for this business; be prepared to invest some dollars to make you available and known. ADVERTISE! ADVERTISE! ADVERTISE! Write a notary profile that makes you stand out as better than the others, a profile that makes the prospective client feel confident about choosing you. Check the documents for accuracy, detail, and completeness. Return correctly executed documents in a timely manner! It will take time, but you will have increased your chances to build a good business.