Steps to Proper Notarization

Special Edition: Starting and Running a Notary Business

The arrival of spring seems to inspire notaries to consider starting a mobile notary business or to improve business practices and marketing strategies in already established businesses.

The American Association of Notaries has incorporated the answers to many questions that we have received recently into three powerful business articles. Those considering starting a notary business, as well as established business owners, will benefit from this month’s first edition of the emailed newsletter. We hope that readers will enjoy the following topics:

-Writing a Plan for a Notary Business
-Beating the Bushes for Business Clients
-100+ Ways to Market your Notary Business

Special Article #1 – Writing a Plan for a Notary Business

Making a plan for a new notary business is the single most important task for a would-be business owner. The simplest way to begin planning a mobile notary business is to clarify the answers to a few important questions.

Why are you starting a notary business? Know exactly why you want to start this new business. Put your reasons for starting a business into writing. What you write does not have to be elaborate, but new business owners should have a clear sense of why they are starting the business. Try this, “I am starting this business because I am determined to ______________.” Fill in the blank with the reason(s) for starting this business.

What are your goals? Do you aspire to earn a full-time income? Do you plan to make enough to pay off a certain debt within the next three years? Do you need to supplement your income by a certain amount? At this step, you might say something similar to,
“My goals are:
-To build my business so that I will earn $___ per month after I have been in business for six months;
- To save $___ each month to pay for my son’s first year of college; and
- To be my own boss.”

Why do you think you can succeed? Do you have expertise as a notary? Can you make yourself stand out as a premier service company? Do you have experience as a business owner? Are you the kind of person who will do whatever it takes to meet your goals? At this point, you should be able to finish this sentence, “The reasons I believe that I can succeed are because ____, ____, and ____.”

What services will you offer in your business? Determine exactly what services you intend to offer in your notary business. Will you do only general notary work? Will you handle real estate and loan signing work? What about other types of notary work? Make an exhaustive list of every type of notary work that one might need and decide if it would benefit your business to offer those services.

What is your potential income? How much can you earn with your new business? Will it be enough to meet your goals? What will you charge for your time, mileage, and paper?

What will your expenses be? Make a list of all of your costs of doing business.

Who will you serve? Who are your potential clients? List every type of client that you will aim to serve. How will you reach your clients to let them know you are open for business?

Who is your competition? When any business starts up, its owners must know the competition that it will face. Figure out who your competitors will be. Plan to set your business apart from its competition without simply being the “bargain basement priced clearance rack” of notary services.

When will you be open for business? What hours will you be available to offer services? Will you only be able to offer services on weekends or after 5:00 p.m.? Will you be available only from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Define the hours you will be able to serve clients.

Where will you perform your services? Will you allow clients to come to your home or office? Will you provide only remote notary services? Will you travel outside of a ten mile radius? How far are you willing to travel? Define the area that you are willing to serve.

How will you get your business established? Before you start up a business, you must be certain that you have the means to operate and that you have met all of the legal requirements. Do you have all of the necessary licenses or registrations? Must you register your business with the county courthouse or city hall? Will you be a sole proprietor or will you incorporate? Do you have all of the equipment you will need? What supplies must you have? How will you reach your clients?

Once you know answers to all of these questions you will have a great start on beginning your notary business. Next, consider tapping into a valuable free resource. Visit the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) nearest you. Make an appointment with your local SBDC ask them to assist you with a plan for your business. Take along the answers that you have generated in response to the questions above. This will be a beneficial step in the right direction for starting your business.

Special Article #2 – Beating the Bushes for Business Clients

Savvy notary business owners know that their businesses will not prosper as desired by sitting quietly and waiting for the usual notary clients to find them. They think outside of the box and look for unique opportunities.

At least one or some of the following undoubtedly will be types of clients that you have not considered in the past.

Unclaimed Assets Firms – There are firms that locate unclaimed assets and get them to their rightful owners. They are paid for their services based on a percentage of the assets that they locate. These types of assignments pay usually $50 - $75 and are fairly simple. The notary receives documents from the hiring firm by email. Most of the time, the notary is paid up front and a check is included in the envelope with the documents that the asset owner must sign. These types of firms locate notaries in the areas that they need services in by using a search engine such as Google or a notary database such as the one on the AAN website.

Foreign Document Work - Notaries who are very familiar with their notary rules, particularly the ones that relate to documents that are printed in a foreign language or documents that will ultimately be sent to a foreign country, may want to consider developing a niche in foreign document work. To receive referrals for this type of work, a notary would contact firms that perform apostille services and ask for them to refer local work to him or her.

We received this tip from an AAN member who shared that she receives a great deal of referral work from an apostille service located in the city that is the capitol of her state. Many times notaries do not realize that they can assist clients with documents that are written in a foreign language. Once a person who has non-English documents that require notarizations visits a couple of notaries who turn them away, they will call apostille services to ask for a referral.

To receive these kinds of referrals for notary work from individuals or businesses who conduct business internationally, a notary should solicit apostille services in his or her state and explain that he or she has the expertise to handle such matters and ask for referrals for clients who send documents to other countries.

Law Firms and Attorneys - Soliciting law firms or attorneys that deal in matters of probate and estate planning can result in an income stream. The clients of such firms or attorneys may not be able to travel to the law offices to sign documents. Also, notaries may find that they will be called by a large family group to notarize affidavits that relate to an estate. A notary can provide remote services for lawyers and do it during hours that fit the needs of the signers.

Another type of firm or attorney with whom a notary may be able to partner are those that specialize in representing clients who are accused of the criminal offense of driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. The clients of these legal entities are often required to attend telephonic hearings to get driver privileges reinstated. Prior to the beginning of a hearing, the client must be sworn under oath to testify. Often, the clients cannot drive themselves to the hearings or to their attorneys’ offices, but they can be on a conference call with courts and their attorneys and they can offer testimony once they are properly identified by a notary and the notary administers an oath.

Structured Settlement Firms
Notaries may want to consider doing mobile notary work for structured settlement firms. First, a word of caution—notaries should use a search engine to search on the words “structured settlement firms notary” without the quotes. A few comments about a particular structure settlement firm that notaries should avoid will surface. Other firms, however, do pay notaries in a timely manner and are reputable firms. The assignments consist of receiving documents by email, printing them, and meeting with the signer at his home, office, or other location. The documents are usually between 25 and 50 pages. Rates for these types of assignments seem to run from $75 to $150.

Tax Loan Businesses
Paying property taxes can be difficult during times of high unemployment rates. There are firms that offer tax loans to keep property owners from losing their homes over a few thousand dollars in back taxes. The loan document packages are not large and they may be delivered to the notary by email or by overnight courier. The fee offered is generally around $50-$100.

Associations and Groups
Consider offering your services to homeowner associations, youth sports associations, schools, handgun instruction classes, and other places where ten or more people need the same document notarized. Notaries may be able to clear $100 or more in an hour from such gatherings.

Large Employers
Notaries may find it is beneficial to send polite solicitations to human resources offices of major employers in the area. These types of offices send documents out to employees or former employees on a regular basis. The documents may relate to disability insurance policies, life insurance policies, or retirement accounts. The recipients are generally newly retired, homebound with a new baby, homebound for other reasons, or recently disabled. Both parties may welcome the concept of a mobile notary who can facilitate the transaction quickly for a reasonable mobile fee.

Hospice Care
Notaries who do not mind visiting clients in hospice care should consider developing relationships with hospice agencies and home health care companies. These are great sources for getting the word out about their mobile notary services.

Loan Signing Companies (aka Signing Services)
Notaries who want to develop a notary signing agent business often contact the AAN with questions about lists of businesses that will hire them. The AAN recommends that notaries find new clients of this nature by taking advantage of the free profile listing on the AAN website, seeking other credible notary databases to sign up with, and searching the web for signing companies that hire notaries. At this time, the AAN does not provide such a list because there is not a good way to determine if the companies on the list would be good clients to our readers and members.

Title Companies
Notary signing agents often wonder about soliciting title companies. Our experts say that, when soliciting title companies, the best bang for the buck will be derived from contacting large national title companies that are doing work in one’s local area. Locally owned offices will not be so receptive. That does not mean that notaries will not find work through locally-owned title companies, but the odds are that those companies will see notaries as competition.

How might one locate the national title companies that are doing work in one’s region? Make a visit to the local courthouse and peruse the recently recorded mortgages. Quite often, the names and addresses of the title company will be stamped or typed on the mortgages.

The experts also suggest that notaries should get as many as 100 loan assignments behind them before tackling direct title company work.

Special Article #3 – 100+ Ways to Market your Notary Business

Now that you are ready to plan your business and know the clients you can target, you can also start marketing your notary business without spending a single dime.

Place ads on free internet sites on a regular basis and watch your mobile notary business grow. Leave no stone unturned and watch your business rise above your competition’s on internet searches! Find these and other free sites by searching for free advertising on search engines.

BestWayClassifieds.com - Boost your sales and promote your company brand with Best Way Classifieds Online Advertising.
Craigslist.com - Submit a free listing every other week. Daily-journal.com – Set up a classified ad.
Express Update USA – Ever wonder how to get into those mobile apps and smart phone databases?
Facebook.com - Set up a Facebook profile and network with clients; add your website to your Facebook profile.
Global Free Ads – Classified ads.
Google.com - Establish your business in Google Places.
HotFrog.com - Your own company page for free
InetGiant.com – Advertise to the world.
LinkedIn.com - Network with other professionals.
Manta.com - Become a member of the business-to-business community.
USNotaries.com – Members of the American Association of Notaries get a free professional profile; non-members can also sign up for a smaller ad.
WebClassifieds.us - Free Online Ads - Internet Advertising
Yellowbook.com – Connect to clients on Facebook.
Yelp.com - Let your clients rate your business.
When listing your business, make sure to use keywords that apply. For instance, you might want to use the following terms in your ad: Notary, notary signing agent, mobile notary, notarize documents, notarizations.

Take advantage of the following 100+ marketing tips that can be applied to notary business promotions.

20 Free Ways to Advertise your Website
7 Tips for Marketing Professional Services
20 Marketing Ideas to Grow a Small Business
10 Rules for Successful Start Ups
13 Ways to Find Clients for your Business
10 Entrepreneurial Strategies for Success
3 Secret Weapons
SBA: Advertising on the Internet – Best Practices
SBA: Advertising Basics
SBA: Marketing 101
SBA: Marketing 201

In the next issue—Questions & Answers about your Notary Duties.

Do you have questions about your notary duties? In the next edition of this newsletter, we will answer readers’ recent questions on notary procedures. Please send your questions to info@usnotaries.com . No question is insignificant! The answer to a question that you ask may be helpful to thousands of our readers.

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Comments? Questions? Suggestions for an article? The American Association of Notaries strives to provide thought-provoking articles that cover situations facing notaries on a daily basis. If you have comments on this article, or a suggestion for a topic that you believe would be helpful to our readers, please let us know. Email us at info@usnotaries.com .

Notice of Disclaimer: The information provided herein is not intended to be an authoritative statement of law. Notary laws differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and may be interpreted or applied differently depending on your state’s statutes or situations. By providing this information, we are not acting as your attorney. We are providing this information based on long-established and recognized notarial standards and practices. If you have legal questions regarding acts or conduct as a notary public, please consult with an attorney or refer to your state’s statutes or other appropriate legal resources.

Notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company, Universal Surety of America, or Surety Bonding Company of America, which are subsidiaries of CNA Surety.