It would be in your best interest to jot down all of the expenses associated with performing the services you provide within your service region to determine a baseline operating cost. Then, at that point, you can calculate the fees that will generate a net profit to determine if you’ll have a Profit or sustain a Loss at that rate.
There are many items to consider within your Overhead calculations. Here are a few to get you started:
• telephone expenses including cell phone equipment and monthly service fees
• office equipment and furniture; i.e., work chair, work desk, reliable dual-tray printer, trustworthy scanner, etc.
• Notarial stamps for Jurats, Acknowledgements, Notarial Name, Commission Expiration, etc.
• rent and utilities
• binder clips
• pens (inexpensive for one-time use)
• stationery and supplies including stamps & envelopes
• travel costs to & from signer locations (i.e., create a generic by county list)
• travel costs to & from FedEx/UPS/USPS, etc. (i.e., choose your favorite location OR the closest that will provide you with a receipt)
• business insurance
• business-related meals and entertainment
• professional association memberships
• annual background checks
• annual certification expenses
• legal and accounting fees
• tax preparation fees
• advertising and marketing costs; i.e., Google ads, yellow pages ad, website, business cards, or brochure
• Protection equipment; i.e., COVID-19 masks, hand sanitizer, wipes, etc.
AND many more!
Your individual overhead would also include the cost of fringe benefits; i.e., medical insurance, disability insurance, retirement benefits. Also, remember to include quarterly income tax payment to federal & state (as appropriate) and self-employment taxes.
If calculating all this accurately seems to be a bit overwhelming, reach out to your tax advisor and ask for guidance in this regard.
Also, there is an excellent specific cost breakdown by one business owner for services within her [ @notarybe ] region & for her overhead:
"Ok for a seasoned already in business Signing Agent (meaning no start up costs to factor in, just on going costs)
- 150 pages (300 when having to print 2 copies)
- 35 miles average miles to signing/from signing/to FedEx drop
- Print cost average .15 per page (Laser printer, standard paper. Note this is also the cost at Staples, FedEx Office in the area BUT I have actually calculated my real costs by dividing the number of pages I get from a toner kit, my drum kit, cost of paper etc. but I use this average of .15 because there are Notaries around who actually use outside printing)
- IRS mileage .56 per mile (you can use actual costs of gas, insurance, plus maintenance costs. I will use the IRS rate because it’s a good average and I also have Tolls I have to pay which I will not add in this example. Also later I kind of use this amount as a “catch all” for other expenses. Again, I have determined my “actual” costs and the averages I use are pretty spot on.)
- 2.25 hours an average total time spent which includes, confirming appt & reviewing instructions, printing/prepping docs, travel time to/from/to FedEx, signing/notarizing docs, scan back
- Costs that people usually do not take into consideration because it’s part of their household BUT they are costs of running a business (home office expenses - internet, electric, computer, phone, supplies, etc.) Remember every business has similar expenses
So here we go…let’s look at average total for this signing:
$45 print costs
$19.60 mileage rate (So this number is based on IRS mileage rate. I use this number as a catch all to give me an estimate of my actual costs (gas, toll, %of annual maintenance, %of insurance and a % of home office costs, %of supplies, etc. Since I know my % for every business expenses, I already know this number is pretty close to my actual costs. For example my actual costs for this signing would be around $21)
It will cost me $64.60 for a 150 page refinance order. With no issues, no traffic, no reprints, no problems
If I took a $75 signing fee I would net $10.40
I would net roughly $4.62 per hour for a signing that took up 2.25 hours of my time.
$95 I would net $30.40 or $13.51 per hour
$125 I would net $60.40 or $26.84 per hour
$150 I would net $85.40 or $37.96 per hour
So when I advocate for SAs and fees I am not just coming up with number off the top of my head. I have done the math for myself personally."
SOURCE: Signing Agent Fee is Just Not a Notary Fee - #38 by notarybe