by Jennifer Dial
You’ve been a closing agent for a while and now you’re serious about increasing your income, right? At first thought, you’re thinking that you need to find signing services that will pay more per signing and/or just charge more for each signing. These are ways that may help to increase your monthly income. These are certainly options for potentially making more money, but I found more success when I started considering the bigger picture of my business.
(As a side note, I also found that when I increased my prices some signing companies stopped calling me, so keep this in mind when deciding to charge more.)
Improve your time management skills
There is a wonderful way to increase your income and it is something completely within your control — learning to manage your time!
Time management will increase your ability to do more signings, which leads to increased revenue. Even though time management can often be difficult for notaries due to the changing circumstances of their appointments on sometimes an hourly basis. It is critical for success that you become a master at managing your time so you get the best performance and outcome at the end of the day.
How do you spend your day?
Providing excellent notary services is only a part of being a successful signing agent. Time management is crucial and it only comes with a thorough examination of how you conduct yourself with respect to your signings. Take time to write down your daily processes and then ask yourself these questions:
- Is there a habit that is slowing you down?
- Are there certain procedures that can be streamlined or eliminated?
- When do you make the most mistakes?
- Is there a signing company or set of lender docs that tend to bring more stress than the signing fee is worth?
- Do you know an experienced notary or a mentor you can speak with about how they incorporate time management into their business.
Preparation is key
Another way to become more efficient is to roleplay different scenarios where your time management skills are tested. Consider the last time you got a bit behind and try to examine your response. Were you able to make it work? What could you have done to have a better outcome?
Time management is best when YOU train yourself to think 3 steps ahead and have multiple techniques to deal with problematic situations. Preparation, flexibility and organization will all lead to adding more revenue to your signing business.
Know your surroundings
You probably think you know your city/town quite well after driving its familiar roads every day, but you should make a point of knowing not only the city for appointment locations but drop locations and gas stops as well. Almost on a weekly basis, I find another FedEx, UPS, or drop stop that I’d never noticed. I make sure to note their hours (weekdays and weekends). Knowing where you can stop for gas at a moment’s notice helps keep your day on track. Although, gassing up at the end of the day is usually the best practice.
Besides losing your notary stamp or forgetting to bring your journal, running out of gas might be the worst thing that can happen to a notary. There are many “gas apps” available that will help you find the nearest (and cheapest) gas when you are too far or don’t have time to visit your favorite fueling spot.
Take a look at this post, the ROI on short distance appointments to make your travels even more efficient.
Expect the unexpected
To run a successful notary business, you need to be prepared as possible for each day. And that preparedness includes allowing room for the unexpected.
Your work bag and all necessary items should be set to go the night before with all docs printed, reviewed, and organized. Along with your docs and supplies, you should also have your day mapped out. This mapping and planning should also allow for time to answer emails and return calls between signings. Flexibility is a huge part of being a great notary. If you can react with confidence because you know you have “a plan”, you will be able to keep your daily schedule even when an unexpected situation finds you.
Set monthly goals
Allow yourself time before each new month to set the upcoming month’s goals. Putting your goals in writing and placing them where you will see them regularly is a great way to hold yourself accountable. I use a large desk calendar that acts as a constant reminder. Whatever method you use, just make sure it’s something that provides proper tracking so you always know where you stand for the month and can adjust accordingly.
Know your clients
Another key component of time management is to know your clients (signing companies, title companies, etc.), and what they expect from you. If you have a fairly full schedule, try not to take a signing from a service or lender that you know can be difficult. I never like to turn a signing down, but if the day is already stretched and you add an appointment that likely comes with potential issues or requires additional time, it might be asking for trouble. Know your limits. I would rather provide exceptional service and have a full day vs. providing sub-par service because my day was over scheduled.
Evaluate your performance regularly
There are days that I’m driving home and say to myself, “Wow, that was a great day. I was ready, prepared and was able to sign everybody with ease, took care of any issues that popped up, and got all my docs dropped in time.” But then there are days of, “Holy cow! That was the worst day ever!”
Be your own worst critic, but also your best cheerleader. Accept that there will be bad days. But ask yourself, even on your good days, what you can do to improve your service. One way to do this is to make a simple commitment to never stop learning. Take training courses even when you think you don’t need them, find a mentor you can speak openly with, and always be willing to try new technology. There are lots of resources on the subject, from books to blogs to podcasts.
A successful notary should always work towards not only becoming as mistake free as possible, but also finding ways to use tools, equipment and your own good sense to grow your business.
Work smarter not harder
In my daily notary business, I have found that establishing excellent time management is a great way to increase my income. It also creates a precedent in that your clients will know you as a notary who can get things done on-the-run. Your ability to think on your feet and change course, all while executing a 150-page loan file will get you the recognition you need to establish yourself as a respected (and very busy) notary in your area.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and find it useful as you explore ways to grow your mobile notary business by working smarter not harder. And remember, luck favors the prepared, so focus on time management, structure, and overall organization and I have no doubt you will reap the rewards by seeing your business grow and improve.
Another way to make extra money as a notary is to increase your exposure. Add your business to our nationwide notary directory.