by Jennifer Craven
As with any business, there is some initial investment to get things up and running. For those of you who are starting your mobile notary business, or even just looking to “up” your technology game, there are several devices that are ESSENTIAL and a few others you might want to seriously consider.
These devices (outlined in detail below) will help you with daily communication, printing, and scanning that is crucial for obtaining – and maintaining – clients.
Note: these products are not sponsored; they are recommended by experienced notary signing agents.
It’s hard to imagine a world where our days don’t revolve around our smartphones. While some wish it wasn’t this way, the reality is if you want to be a successful mobile notary, you need a smartphone. If your phone “flips” and can’t connect to Wi-Fi, it’s time to upgrade.
One of the quickest ways to lose a client, is to reveal that you don’t have basic smartphone capabilities. As soon as you tell a client that you don’t text, don’t have access to email on your phone, or simply reveal in some other way that you are “technologically stunted”, that is likely the last time you’ll hear from that client.
Even if you are an excellent notary, clients want to work with people who are technologically savvy. It makes clients feel safe and like they are working with a real professional. While many notaries prefer to stick to “old school” ways, they will eventually start to see their business decrease because new clients will likely opt for a notary they feel is more tech savvy.
Smartphones also open up a world of helpful tools. They allow you to email, have access to useful apps, as well as maps to navigate your way from signing to signing. A smartphone is simply a MUST!
Apple vs Android
There are many varieties of smartphones out there. Apple and Android are the two most prominent brands, but it’s important to pick a phone with an operating system (OS) that works for you. Here you can find a breakdown of Apple vs Android operating systems to get you started.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to stop by the retail location of your cell provider to try out the phones and see what they recommend based on your needs. And as an added consideration, make sure you are happy with your cell phone provider.
- Do they offer great coverage in the areas you travel most?
- Are they competitively priced?
- Are you happy with their customer service?
We cannot stress the importance of having your smartphone setup completely under control. This includes the phone, it’s capabilities, as well as the correct provider and plan for your needs.
Laptop or desktop computer
A good computer is just as important as a smartphone for any serious mobile notary. While most Notary Signing Agents rely heavily on their smartphone capabilities, having the right computer setup is equally important.
The key thing to consider is do you want a desktop or a laptop (or both). Many NSAs like to be able to take their laptop with them to signings and don’t feel the need to have a traditional desktop. One setup that has become very popular is to have a laptop that connects to a large monitor in your home office. This is the best of both worlds because you can unplug your laptop when you need to take it with you. When you return, you simply plug it in to your monitor and it’s like having a desktop without the need for two separate devices. Here is a quick quiz that might help you narrow down your options.
When considering your computer setup, we recommend you speak to a professional. They are experts and can really help you make a good decision based on your needs. Any tech store (such as BestBuy), will have knowledgeable people that are happy to help you. Make sure to do price shopping after you make a decision because oftentimes the same models can be found online at a cheaper price. Many stores even offer price matching if you find it somewhere else at a lower price.
Printer, scanner, fax…all-in-one office machine
Notice here that we’re not going to break this down individually by printer, scanner, and fax machines. And do you know why? Because magic has happened and now you can buy one quality machine that does all these things, plus some (like make copies)!
Dealing with documents daily and being a notary go hand-in-hand. You need a reliable and effective way to print, scan, and fax documents. Investing in a good all-in-one office machine is worth its weight in gold. Brother and HP tend to be the leading choices for Notary Signing Agents. You can now find quality machines for under $300. There are a few important things to consider when making a purchase
- Always choose a laser printer over an inkjet. Laser is so much faster and will save you loads of time, ink, and money in the long run.
- Make sure you choose a machine that has a dual tray printer. Many loan documents are legal sized and you need to be able to easily print these documents.
- Pay attention to the speed (pages per minute) of both printing and scanning. Speeds of 20-40 pages are standard. Some can go up to 100 pages per minute, but their price reflects this speed.
- Make sure the printer is Wi-Fi. This will allow you to print from anywhere and you won’t need a physical cord between your device and the printer.
- Always do price comparisons. Ebay and Amazon often have “open box” models that are perfectly new and will save you some money.
- Consider after-market toner. If you find a good one, it can save you a ton of money from buying the name brand option recommended by the manufacturer of your machine. Read reviews to find quality ones on Amazon.
So now that you have your smartphone, computer, and all-in-one office machine ready to go, you might want to consider a few extras that will help to make you even more tech savvy and truly mobile.
The first and most simple is personal Wi-Fi. This is different from accessing public Wi-Fi when doing signings. Public Wi-Fi is not recommended for obvious security reasons. You can obtain your own Wi-Fi for devices by turning your phone into a hotspot or having an external hotspot device.
There are many options available, but your cell phone provider will be able to tell you the options based on your plan and what’s available in your area. Having personal Wi-Fi allows you to both download and upload documents remotely. It also provides secure Wi-Fi for those notaries performing E-Notarizations.
For mobile notaries who want to be truly “mobile” and take new assignments while on the road, there are various devices needed to adapt your vehicle for receiving, printing, and scanning documents. One of these devices is a power inverter.
An Amazon search for ‘power inverter’ shows tons of options. We could list some for you, but this is one item that cannot be narrowed down, as it really depends on your vehicle and the various devices you plan to use. Having the correct device will allow you to use a printer from your car. There are many notaries who have completely mobile setups where they can do everything from their car. This is certainly not required, but if you live in a rural area it might be something to consider.
Focus on the technology you need
Technology can be overwhelming. My intention with this article was to simplify what you really need to be successful. Keep it simple and do your research. The key to technology is figuring out what functions you need and finding devices that suit your demands. When in doubt, go with the proven options; otherwise, don’t be afraid to take your time, do the research, and make informed decisions to maximize your budget.
As long as you have a smartphone, proper computer setup, and a fully functioning office machine…you’ll be just fine. And as your business grows, you can upgrade and add pieces of technology that will continue to help your business thrive.
This article is one of a 4 part series on the Advantages of Technology for your Notary Business. Keep reading.
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