Quickly Estimating whether an assignment is worth taking

Hi. I’ve been a notary signing agent for a little over a year. At first, I was happy to drive all over the Denver Metro Area, Colorado Springs, Eastern Colorado (out on the plains), NoCO (Northern Colorado) all the way to the Wyoming border. I needed experience; also beautiful country every way I went. I lived in Aurora, CO (southeast of Denver.) In March, I moved to NoCO (Windsor, CO). I receive less assignment opportunities now, and a fair amount of jobs come from a distance. (I’ve updated my profiles to say that I service Weld, Larimer, and Boulder counties.)

To get to the question…when a text comes in with a job, how can I quickly estimate if I will actually make money if I accept the job? Yesterday a job came in for an address 35 mi. away. It would take 45 minutes to get there. The fee offered was $85. It was a standard refi. I countered asking for $95 (politely) but ultimately did not get the job.

My thinking was 70 mi. RT. With the IRS deduction for travel for work at $ .58/mi., a quick estimate of of $.60 x 70 = $42.00 (a couple $ high for rounding up), docs my guesstimate was 128 pages (2 sets of 128). The best I can figure for my printers, ink, paper… is $.06/page = $ 15.36. So adding mileage to resources, I am at $57.36. If I accept the $85 offer, I am left with approx. $27 to account for my time which I estimate to be around 3 hours (prep/printing, travel, closing).

What is your rule of thumb in figuring out if an assignment will earn you $?
Are my estimations too high? I’d appreciate all your thoughts, processes, and feedback on my process.

(I am still learning which jobs are within 30 minutes of home and destinations that are further away.) I accepted an assignment in Ft. Collins shortly after I moved here thinking it would be a hop, skip, and a jump to get there (20 min tops). Yeah, 45 min like the Longmont job. I now quickly google map the address to get an idea how far away the job is.

So $27 is left to account for time (which considering nothing else, 3 hours is $9/hour), scanbacks? = time; package drop? = time and mileage; pre-signing duties? (printing time, review, confirmation) - time

My suggestion? You need to break down all your hard costs and come up with something considerably over $85 for a signing - if you want to start making a profit, that $85 fee/per signing is where to start.

JMO and good luck.

P.S I charged $125 for a refi/purchase in my county back 5 years ago when I did them - out of county tack on another $25 - I was happy with that figure…for ME

P.P.S. OOHH.and least I forget - that $27 - don’t forget federal (and state if applicable) taxes on your money.

You’ve got the numbers you need to make a spreadsheet that will calculate your actual out of pocket expense for any given offer. I made one that does that and also tells me what the $/hr of the offer is and will also tell me when to counter & for how much. I make 3 to 5 # entries & voila–reality!

1 Like

Thank you! I appreciate your response!

Thank you! I hadn’t thought of that! I appreciate your idea!

Great question, Gwendolyn. :gem:

I also find it’s quite helpful to create a “County” spreadsheet, so you’ll know in an instant if it’s worth your time to travel to that county. :tulip::woman_cartwheeling:

I created a zip code radius spreadsheet. You can go to the US Radius Zip Code Map and put in the variables for the number of miles you are willing to travel from your home location and it will give you all the codes within that radius. Some will be in and others outside of county. On my spreadsheet I put in a column for county and I can then filter for a couple of variables. That helped me a lot until I got to learn the zip codes by heart. My shorthand is to always ask “what is the zip code”, and I know instantly whether it’s worth my while to consider the job. Like others, I tack on an additional $30 fee anytime I have to cross into a county outside of mine. Once or twice the difference between zip codes has been literally across the street! But, if it fits the parameters I make the argument for the higher fee. I have always been paid it.


One thing you can do to get familiar with distance in your surrounding area is google zip code map of your region and print it out, and map the distance to those areas. Then come up with an additional fee for that extra distance so you are ready to counter. Found it to help me alot. I even posted it to my website to be upfront in pricing.

Don’t forget the hidden cost of taking a low paying assignment: opportunity cost. The more offers you take per day, the more your time becomes worth. When you take a low pay job, you give up the opportunity to accept a good paying job at the same time period and have to turn any new good offer down because you took the “stinker”.

1 Like

I do local signings only (25 miles in any direction) for a flat fee of $125 plus $45 for any scanbacks. (Its amazing how so few of them want a scanback if they have to pay for it). It costs $32 in administrative product cost to take a job plus mileage. When anyone offers $65-90 for a job you are hurting every notary and you are killing the viability of this profession. Remember, the signing service gets between $300 -$500 per case and some of us are settling for peanuts.

1 Like

Thank you Everyone for your suggestions! They are exactly what I was hoping to learn!

Do you work Directly with Title companies? or a Signing Service? I am new and want to get experience. I have done 4 now and feel way more confident. I am glad you told me about the scan back.

Arichter would you be willing to share that spread sheet. I am having a little problem when people talk about mileage,. I believe there is only a certain amount we can deduct off our taxes. To me if I had a normal job would I take what I make per hour and deduct mileage to see exactly how much money I am making per hour. I look at it like it is part of going to work. I would love your input.
Thank you