Technology has changed loan signing procedures drastically. It is critical for notary signing agents to understand these changes if they want to remain competitive. We all know that speed and accuracy are paramount. Using technology to achieve these goals will certainly set you apart from your competitors. From finding clients, to completing signings at lightning speed, as well as upgraded billing options, technology has paved the way for my business.
Loan Signing Services Have Moved Online
Traditionally, notary signing agents had many options for finding work. They could send paper advertising or could even stop by local banks and drop off information about their services. Consumers, however, are no longer turning to local banks for loans. Instead, they use online services like Quicken Loans to shop for the best rate. The ability to compare rates not only allows the consumer to save thousands on their mortgage, but also provides many opportunities for signing agents to use technology to their advantage when looking for signing opportunities.
Online and out-of-state loan providers typically don’t have loan signing agents on staff. Moreover, many clients prefer to sign their documents in the evening or on the weekends when banks are closed. These 2 factors created a situation where lenders have changed the way they locate loan signing agents across the country.
Those loan signing agents who have taken advantage of this paradigm shift have seen their business survive and even prosper. These changes have also opened the door for many newcomers to the notary and loan signing agent profession. This has created a fiercely competitive market. Understanding technology and how to take advantage of a changing market can make or break your notary business.
Notary Directories: Technology Gets You Found
Technology helps loan providers and consumers find qualified signing agents. There are many online databases that provide listings for mobile signing agents, including 123Notary, GOGetNotary, NotaryGo, Snapdocs, and Notary Jane. While each platform has its own nuances, they all operate similarly in that they help consumers and banking institutions quickly and easily find qualified mobile notary signing agents.
When setting up a profile on one of these databases it’s important you put your marketing hat on! This is an opportunity to sell yourself by highlighting key information that makes you uniquely qualified to take on the job. Start by including a professional photo of yourself (well lit, professional attire, from the shoulders up) and completing every field of required information. If there are optional fields that are not required, fill those out as well. Include your qualifications, experience, and any unique training or skills.
Although not a traditional notary listing database, the National Notary Association (NNA) is one of the most important and reputable notary organizations and governing bodies. NNA is a membership-based organization that gives its members access to educational aids, important forms, and a hotline members can call to have questions answered. NNA maintains information about your notary commission, bond, and Errors and Omission (E&O) policies. They also verify credentials, provide trainings and complete background checks. Being able to list yourself as a member in good standing is a great addition to any online profile when marketing your services.
Notary Business Website
Another way that technology helps work find you is through a personal website. This gives you creative license in how you display your qualifications, experience, and services offered. When setting up your site, it’s worth using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategies so your website will appear higher in search rankings.
We also recommend showcasing testimonials, linking to review sites such as Yelp, and including call to action buttons such as “Call Us” or “Book Your Appointment Now” to help sell your services. (Learn more about using your website to sell your mobile notary services).
Finally, don’t overlook the power of online review sites like Yelp and Google Business. Take the extra step to set-up your business on these platforms. If your business is already there but you did not create the profile, don’t panic! Often customers start the profiles on your behalf when they leave reviews before you’ve had a chance to set up your own profile. You’ll have the option to take over ownership when you access the platform. Once your profile is set-up and in your possession, start asking some of your frequent and happy customers to leave reviews.
Technology Creates Lightning Fast Document Signings
Technology has changed the way document packages are received and returned. Previously, signing agents were required to fax and then mail the originals. While mailing is still required for original signatures in some cases, the methods for the initial receipt and return have been seriously upgraded by technology.
Currently, document packages are almost always sent through secure online platforms by lenders. All you have to do is log in and print the documents. This allows for easy retrieval and no waiting for the documents to arrive in the mail. That said, lenders expect you to return the documents just as quickly and efficiently as you received them.
This is where a real technological advantage is presented. By having a high quality printer/scanner, you can retrieve and return documents with ease. We all know those waiting to receive signed documents can be very impatient, so taking advantage of your high quality scanner is a way to move to the top of their preferred notary list. If you’re still using a fax or have an older scanner…throw it out and upgrade immediately! This is your most important office tool and is worth the investment. Excellent machines are available at reasonable prices and will more than pay for themselves.
Mobile Phones Create Mobile Offices
If you don’t have a current smartphone (iPhone, Samsung, etc) or if your phone is considered a “flip phone”, please stop reading this article and go upgrade immediately! Your mobile device is KEY to your success as a signing agent. This article will wait until you get back home from the cell store…
Okay, so now that we know you have an awesome smartphone at your fingertips, how should you take advantage of its technology? We’re glad you asked.
First and foremost, having a mobile phone helps you have excellent, speedy communication with both your signers and clients. Running late? Let them know with a quick call or text. Find an error on the document? No problem, contact the company and they can email over a fixed one. Having a phone and using it to communicate well is one of the best ways to ensure repeat business!
Cell phones also create the ability to set-up a mobile hotspot. When you’re on the road, you may need to stop at a coffee shop or restaurant to check your email and update clients. While using the shared, free WiFi can be tempting, you should absolutely never use it if you’re communicating about sensitive client information. Your mobile hotspot is the safest way to use the internet and keep your client’s information safe.
Another way that cell phones create mobile offices are through their ability to take photos of identification, and scan documents. Although, not the ideal tool for these purposes due to lower image quality vs. a high quality scanner, apps like Camscanner or Simple Scanner make scanning and sending documents a breeze and can be used when document return is urgent.
Technology Gets You Paid
Technology also helps when it comes to getting paid. Many signing platforms provide automatic payment for notaries (i.e. Snapdocs) and you should take full advantage. Always assume when this option is available that clients prefer to pay you this way. Avoid sending invoices in these cases because the client has already received one from the platform and duplication can cause confusion or make them think they are being double billed.
In the event you need to issue and invoice, use a system like Quickbooks, Dubsado, Wave, or Freshbooks to generate professional invoices. Giving your clients multiple payment options is key. Paypal, credit card, as well as a physical check should all be options.
Keep Pace with Technology
Technology plays an integral part in growing a successful mobile notary business regardless of the stage your business in. When you’re just starting out, using technology to join notary databases and market your services online will be beneficial and profitable. When serving clients, mobile hotspots, GPS, and digital scanner apps are key to providing the speedy and efficient notarizations required to keep clients happy and returning. And technology helps at every phase of your business with invoicing software that help you get paid in a timely manner.
As technology continues to advance, it will be imperative that you stay on top of new trends to remain competitive. Bitcoin and virtual notarizations are just a couple of the technological advances that will be impacting your business sooner than you may think. Remember, in the world of technology, “the early bird gets the worm”. The faster you’re able to adapt to technology changes, the more cutting edge and profitable you’ll be from it. Good luck!
And if you aren’t listed in a notary directory yet, take a look at joining Notary Jane.
By Cheryl Elizabeth Patterson, Owner & Notary Public State at Large Kentucky