Ten Mistakes New Signing Agents Make

By Kelly Robertson

1. They Don't Know What They're Doing.

Newbies have passed their Notary Exam and many have even taken a loan signing certification course, but they have no clue how to complete a proper notarization. They don't know how to use their journal, they're lost when it comes to the difference between a Jurat and an Acknowledgement, they're not sure about valid ID, and properly presenting loan docs is a mystery.

2. They Don't have a Plan.

You know, a Business Plan—your blueprint for success. The plan that tells us the how, what, when and where in order to conduct business. A working business plan keeps us focused and on track which is especially important when you're working on a start-up business.

3. They Aren't Set Up to Conduct Business.

Many newbies don't have the proper permits or licenses required to legally conduct business in their city such as a business license. Everyone also needs a business bank account which may require a Fictitious Business Name filing and an EIN Number.

4. They Don't Have the Appropriate Equipment to Be a Loan Signing Agent.

Everyone must have a computer that will support accepting and downloading large files, a proper email address (not one with dots, dashes, silly words or nicknames and not ten feet long), a cell phone that gets great reception, a laser printer with PCL-5 drivers or higher, a plain paper fax machine or better yet, buy a multi-function machine. And let's not forget business cards: Buy them by the ton, they're cheap.

5. Their Office is Not Set Up.

What? Yeah, Signing Agents need lots of paper (especially legal), toner, pens, bulldog clips, paper clips, file folders, business accounting software and/or an Excel spreadsheet program to keep your expenses, invoices, AR/AP and mileage in check. Forget any rumor you've heard: We DO pay taxes!

6. New Signing Agents Quit Their Day Jobs.

If you don't have money in the bank, don't quit your day job. Newbies have been told they can make 100K their first year. Forget that. It won't happen. You've got to be sure you can support yourself as a Loan Signing Agent. Food's important.

7. They Assume Everyone Who Needs a Notary Will be Able to Find Them.

I'm always amazed at the newbies who tell me they're listed on only one major directoy website. Yeah, along with the other zillion notaries who are listed there, too. You must be all over the internet. I'm pro-website, too, because linking to your web page or site profile makes a huge difference. (Visit GoGetNotary's Directory page for possible listing sites.)

8. Their Profiles Are Negative, What They Won't Do.

How many times have I read something like this on a profile: "I will not travel more than 9 miles round trip; If you're sending me edocs, I need 5 hours advanced notice or I will not complete the signing for you; Since I work full-time, I can only sign between the hours of 9 a.m.-9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays (except when the moon is full) and on Wednesdays in odd months I can work from 10 a.m. to noon, and then again from 2:15 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. Call for an appointment on Fridays. I do not work in the evenings or weekends or holidays or during the summer months in even years." I wonder if they work on days that end in "y"? Establish a reasonable schedule. You can always say you're not available.

9. They're Not Willing to Work Hard.

A new signing agent's first year will involve planting their behind firmly in front of their computer. Doing what, you ask Conducting research, marketing, getting their profiles on line, signing up with signing companies and if they're smart, reading the message boards for leads which is also a great way to make new friends and network. Plan on no life, a dirty house and a hungry family for at least a year. Think I'm kidding?

10. They're Not Open to Criticism.

I love the newbies who post on a message board, "Take a look at my new site! Opinions welcomed." None of them really mean it; they only want the opinions that tell them their site is awesome.

Here's another example: They post, "Please don't slam me, but..." and then tell of a story about how they felt pressured to backdate or the signer didn't have proper ID but was so nice! Or how about the one where the Loan Officer is upset because the Notary Signing Agent told the borrowers they were getting ripped off. If you post mistakes like these, expect to be corrected and learn from it.

Becoming a successful Notary Signing Agent is possible with hard work, but it takes knowing what to do and what NOT to do.

Kelly Robertson is a popular instructor for NotaryClasses.com and a former signing agent coach. She has been a licensed Notary Public for over 20 years and was a full-time Loan Signing Agent for nine. Kelly was also a member of the GoGetNotary National Advisory Council. Although still teaching notary public classes and doing occasional signings, she has moved her primary focus into her Senegence distributorship.