Disturbing Email from Professional Notary Services Inc

Keeping it simple (without looking at numbers)
Why are we assuming that everyone has the same profit margin?
Why are we assuming that $40 is a low fee for others just because it is for you?
I wasn’t talking about time (as I think I know what’s involved with expenses incurred with a signing), the topic of concern in the post I replied to was about his concern on GAS.
Imagine your landscaper giving you a bill for $150 to cut your lawn that took him 20 minutes to cut. You complain about “the fee.” He says, “I own 10 lawnmowers, 8 weed trimmers, and 3 trucks that all need gas,” but he only used one of those lawnmowers, one weed trimmer and one truck to cut your lawn. Hopefully you wouldn’t pay based on his reason alone. Yeah, he’s out for “profit” as you stated, but just guess what my sales pitch would be? A fixed fee for a fixed service is just that. You can wait and try and pull blood from a stone, but I’ll settle for the dirt and dust on it if I can use it!

With due respect… you have no idea what my profit margin is … I base my price on what I need and am not responsible to maintain the livelihood of others. We all have a choice… if you need $150 per signing to meet your needs I would say that is an issue for you…what makes me responsible?

I’m sorry but I did not get into this business for people to tell me what I should or should not do… that is why I left corporate America…

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This is serious. Sorry to hear you have people on your team who don’t take this career as seriously as you do. All of these issues sound like it boils down to one main thing. As you pointed out near the bottom of the list, “Instructions are not being followed.”

Sorry, that message was in response to a different post.

I believe your analysis has a vital flaw. Not everyone has the same profit margin. Those operating in the same market will have a similar, not identical, operating costs. From the local operating costs, it’s easy to determine if your competition has a sufficient profit margin to cover the operating margin as well a enough left over for reinvestment and profit. This, of course, is highly dependent on location.

When I see what my competitors are charging for the same thing I offer, it’s easy to determine if they’re making a profit or estimate how long they’ll remain in business. One metric is when the NSA calls offering to sell me their remaining paper supplies, printers, and other office equipment. I’ve received very little interest from fellow NSAs in buying this equipment. So I’ve taken to reselling these items to my colleagues in the Tax Business.

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I receive something similar from
US Certified Signers

The borrower wanted to sign at 4 PM consequently I arrived at FedEx at 5 PM and the package didn’t arrive the next day. All asking if I still have the package because you couldn’t track it.

I had about 10 missed phone calls in the morning
Possibly about 10 emails threatening me because they cannot track the package.

In the end they paid me $0 nothing for my work instead said it was all my fault.

Because the industry is slowing people want to work on things fast, and want to save money and cut corners and blame others if they can’t do it early. Unfortunately we take the blame and end up not getting paid.

Did you get a receipt to prove you dropped the package? I’d fight it. U.S. Certified Signers has a history of finding reasons not to pay their notaries. I know of one former notary who sued them, got a judgment and they still had not paid him (last I knew from a few years ago) - they just ignored the judgment

The sad thing about getting a judgment is that it is only as good as the paper it is written on. Enforcing it is the hardest part. Placing a lien is useless…especially on a business.

I would definitely approach the title/escrow company for payment and report these clowns to your SOS.

I have done quite a few closings for them and have never had any issues with payments. They communicate with me very well about what they need and what they expect and on occasion even reconfirmed via email. When I get the order I always clarify when they want the documents shipped and am often told the next day. 9 out of 10 times I ship the same day and even send them a scanned copy even when they don’t ask for it. All the ones I have done for them have been 10 pages or less… so my experience with them has not been the same.

Forgive me in advance, as I have made several posts in this discussion, so I need a little clarification on your reply. What exactly is the flaw based on your first paragraph as it relates to what I have posted here (and in numerous other topics)? Keep in mind, I generally look at all of your posts as being very informative and productive, so not challenging, just curious here. To me, operating costs are generally not similar at all in our business just factoring in gas and travel/signing time alone, and as you stated, that’s dependent on each NSA’s location.
This business is like playing poker to me. Yeah the cards in the deck are all the same (common expenses) but we don’t know what “wild” card is going to be dealt to us (travel/time) until that card falls. The rest is either fold, call (accept) or raise on the offered fee.
The point that I was trying to make was is “most” of our clients have a pretty good idea of what we do and what our expenses are (as a good portion of them either have done what we do or have the experience under their belt from being in the industry for years). Which ultimately means, if you are set on a fixed fee, based on that fee and the assignment they want to give you, they can tell when one’s fee is inflated by charging them for expenses that they know an NSA will not reasonably incur. All’s this does is gives the client incentive to shop around, “especially” nowadays.
Again, one wanting to “fill their tank” on every job when they only traveled 10 miles round trip to do the job is desirable, I get it, but not realistic, and our clients know this. I don’t know about anyone else on here, but I RARELY get a call from a client asking me what my fee is to do an assignment they want done. The call usually comes along with THEIR fee. When they do ask and I respond, they either “fold or call (accept)”. The common line we have all witnessed from them? “Let me see if I can get that approved and I will call you back.” How often does the phone ring again from them after that conversation? REALISTICALLY?
Way too much competition out there, and too little demand out there to be underestimating the client. IMO, the demand ALONE the last few years got us “our fee,” NOT our expenses.

Specifically your example of Lawn Care. My clients are paying for my experience, education/training, and “know how”. They’re not paying for the number of Notary seals, how many printers I use, etc…

What I’m referring to regarding Notary location, is the geographical operating area. My competition will by paying about the same for fuel. While each assignment may have different fuel cost due to distance, if I set a maximum distance I can use this as a fixed value, as a shorter distance reduces cost. Factoring in drive time and you’ve got a reliable maximum, aka worse case, cost for transportation. I can arrange a tiered “distance to client” model which will reduce the gambling risk. I Use Zip Codes as my D2C calculations.

I disagree with your assertion, ““most” of our clients have a pretty good idea of what we do and what our expenses are…”. Outside of a local lender, most Title Co.s and SS have no idea what’s in my region. Fuel costs vary by region, traffic, and distance are things they’re not familiar. For example, in my region the next zip code can be 20-30 miles away.

Our clients assume or imply they know what we do. They may have an idea, but few actually understand that a TX VA Refi can hold 200 pages. It’s takes more than an hour to go through the package with the signer. It’s not uncommon for me to get calls at the table from the SS or Title wanting to know if I’m done. I’m not going to explain to the caller that the signer is slow on the uptake. I had a worse case 1031 closing that took over 5 hours to close as the signer had no idea what the documents ‘said’. She spent more time on the phone that signing documents. These factors add to the operating costs of doing business. This is why I no longer take on 1031s of Reverse Mortgages.

If I use my D2C model, average package size, ease getting to Fedex, etc., I set up a collection of fixed fees, with a minimum, that will help ensure I’m operating profitability. This is the definition of operating margin. By controlling, or reducing the variability of costs. In other words I took a granular view of my expenses to eliminate variables.

My approach is to ask for a fee increase to cover my costs/profits, if I don’t get it, I move on to the next. I’m not going to wait around for the call back.

Too many small business owners will accept any offer that’s made out of fear of loosing business. It’s rare for them to preemptively analyze their minimum fee for any engagement. This has a tendency to nibble away at profits, especially with high inflation we have today. This contributes to the slow death of a company. In this case it’s better to pass on a fee offering that doesn’t meet the companies minimum. While there are good NSA training organizations, none of them teach basic business management.

In my area I’ve had several NSAs dropping out, selling me their office equipment. I’ve taken to refurbishment and resale Pre-Owned equipment. The increase in NSA dropout has been increasing over the last 120 days.

I do agree there’s too much competition and low demand. This alone keeps fees down. What I won’t do is put my self in Bankruptcy. This is why I started another business last year. The NSA business is no longer a sustainable single income source until the NSA heard thins out.

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I specifically put gas and time aside on this in my post. This was my “wild card” I expressed. But they do have a pretty good idea on the rest of our (common) expenses. In either case, it doesn’t have any influence on what they offer us in fees, because they don’t care either way when looking to get the job done for the lowest cost possible.

My clients are paying for my experience, education/training, and “know how”.
This only applies when a client is accepting “your fee.” Not on jobs you are accepting their fee on. I have yet to receive a request on my end “specifically” requiring my "experience, education/training, and know how,” and I have 11 years in this gig. It’s always about the fee. Yes, one can charge based on such, but when the shopping around begins, never a specific request.

The NSA business is no longer a sustainable single income source until the NSA heard thins out.
Or until the demand goes up

In my area I’ve had several NSAs dropping out, selling me their office equipment.
Either to those sticking to “their fees” or notaries trying to learn this gig at the table and got burned!
IMO

My clients are paying for my experience, education/training, and “know how”.
This only applies when a client is accepting “your fee.” Not on jobs you are accepting their fee on. I have yet to receive a request on my end “specifically” requiring my "experience, education/training, and know how,” and I have 11 years in this gig. It’s always about the fee. Yes, one can charge based on such, but when the shopping around begins, never a specific request.// I’m hired because of my know how and experience. Whether or not the fee being offered matches is a Non-Sequitur.

The NSA business is no longer a sustainable single income source until the NSA heard thins out.
Or until the demand goes up// It seems you’re assuming that the number of NSAs is static and the volume of business will return to what we saw over the last 2 years. Both of these factors are unknown. If we enter a prolonged recession the number of NSAs can go either way; those looking for an income source or those who’ve abandoned ship due to low profitability. This is why having multiple sources of income is one tactic to mitigate financial risk. The critical element is having multiple sources of income that don’t rely on a single vertical.

In my area I’ve had several NSAs dropping out, selling me their office equipment.
Either to those sticking to “their fees” or notaries trying to learn this gig at the table and got burned!// There’s the a third possibility expressed by several NSAs who’ve sold me their used equipment; the business is no longer profitable.

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I’m hired because of my know how and experience. Whether or not the fee being offered matches is a Non-Sequitur.
My point on this was that “know how and experience” is RARELY a specific request when the phone rings, or the text/email goes out. It is commonly “assumed” by the client we have the “knowledge and know how” for the simple fact we hold a notary public commission and a NSA certification. And if they do ask for that “knowledge and experience” specifically, then they will be charged/quoted for it respectfully, for the simple fact they actually asked for it. The “few” times I was asked for my knowledge and experience, the transaction was high stake for them, and they weren’t worried about a “reasonable” fee offered by me.

It seems you’re assuming that the number of NSAs is static and the volume of business will return to what we saw over the last 2 years. Both of these factors are unknown. If we enter a prolonged recession the number of NSAs can go either way; those looking for an income source or those who’ve abandoned ship due to low profitability. This is why having multiple sources of income is one tactic to mitigate financial risk. The critical element is having multiple sources of income that don’t rely on a single vertical.
Several of my previous posts would confirm the last thought in my mind is that inventory of notaries is static (hence my “they are like busses” example/quote). But I am a historical/statistical guy, and this industry is cyclical, because other factors that influence this industry are also cyclical (like the economy/markets, etc.). Yeah it may take a while (or not, who knows) but the historical/statistical data shows a recovery ALWAYS. I also always stated (in other topics) that knowledge of our industry, the economy and markets as a whole is key to success in this business, along with history (2000, 2008). And if they came into this business thinking they were going to make 6 digits/retire from it, thy came in not having that knowledge or experience from the cyclical factors I mentioned, as well as from prior events (no homework). So yes, I agree, multiple sources of income is a necessity, and this should remain as a side gig for supplemental income.

There’s the a third possibility expressed by several NSAs who’ve sold me their used equipment; the business is no longer profitable.
This goes back to my pervious point as well. “Those sticking to “their fees” or notaries trying to learn this gig at the table and got burned!” The result of both is no profit. Basically boiling down to inadequate business operations and decisions. (IMO)

This was a very thorough post and listed lots of variables.

I’ve been getting nothing from them…and am RON certified through them.

I think at least in my area, we’re hit. There’s not much left to refi after the refi-boom and there’s not much for sale.

I don’t like Helocs because of the pay and I refuse to do reverse mortgages.

I need to figure out a new side-gig for my extra $.

I’m a little confused with your statement. When I sign up with companies, the application asks if you are RON Certified, but only on specific platforms like Pavaso, or another platform; however, you can’t be a Pavaso certified Notary unless someone sponsors you. My answer to the first question is YES, but NO to the specific platform. How do RON Certified NSA’s get the work?

Once you found out the borrow couldn’t sign until 4 p.m. you should contact the signing company to have them ask if they want scan backs because you will not make the drop. CYA

This would of made you more $ for the scanbacks, and gives the customer options.

Bill

They are what’s called “hybrid” platforms. They not only bring work to you, (via clients they work with), but you can also use their platform to bring your own GNW clients. Other platforms either strictly bring work to you (like a SS Co) or they strictly only allow you to bring your own clients. You have to research each to determine what fits your needs. Hope this helps!