By Brenda Stone—Before you get started advertising yourself, you need to determine what areas you will service for what amount.

You should create a list of counties, cities and zip codes you will service. Make a chart in Excel with these Column Headings: Zip, City, County, Travel Fee, Base Fee, Total Overnight Fee, Total eDocs Fee, Travel Time.

My fees are now set at an amount well over $100.00 for my base fee. I suggest you look at the fee survey link mentioned at the top of this page before you make up your mind on what you will charge. Remember, a low, low fee indicates a green, green notary lacking experience.

And, remember, under-cutting your competition is not always the right way to get the best response. For instance, there is a notary in a major city many miles from me who will do for $85 what I travel to within 30 miles of her and do for a little less than three times that amount. I get called for that area frequently because of quality and professionalism. The loan officers are quite willing to pay my fee.

But, back to base fees. Mine is set high enough so that for this amount I will do edocs or overnight delivery, travel an undisclosed amount of miles one way and do faxing back. I charge this amount because I have been in the business long enough to have done my time, paid my dues and learned that nine out of ten assignments take more time and effort than it seems on first glance. I can always go down on the amount, but I cannot go up.

Before I got more experienced, I found myself taking overnight documents and then having to accept 25 pages via fax. I don’t call that a true overnight document delivery. Such as this requires 25 pages being printed for the originals which must be returned and another 25 pages being printed for the borrower’s copies.

Also learned that travel may not be as easy as it sounds. Maybe the trip to the borrower’s location is all paved road, maybe it is not. Maybe directions got me there at the first try, maybe it did not. Whether it is my problem, or not if I get lost in rural Texas, it is a fact learned through my signing experience and I do not overlook this. I do my best to consider all factors when quoting a price.

Maybe the documents would not be signed, but quite honestly, 95% of the time they are. (Thank goodness.)

However, when they are not signed, most companies pay half fees. I personally choose not to work for less than $xxx.xx (amount undisclosed) per job at minimum so I set my fees high enough to be worth the time invested if the 5% fluke occurs after I have traveled down ten miles of dirt road at twenty miles per hour which takes 30 minutes.

To set myself up to take less than $75 (trip fee) for a two and one half hour of investment of my time is not something I enjoyed having happen to me. I keep that from happening by quoting what the job is worth to me.

Think through each assignment in terms of a TRIP FEE so that you do not underbid yourself!.