Temper your expectations

Sober advice from the writer of this terrific article!
I’m about to foster a relationship with a title company and I think I’m ready even though I’m a relatively new notary/signing agent. 40 years in the banking industry sprinkled with lots of expert witness work has seasoned me. Yet, I try not to have unrealistic expectations.
90 closings a month seems super-human to me (that’s over four a day!).
I am taking what I can get, even though I have calculated that I’m barely making minimum wage. Here’s my simple cost breakdown (I’d like feedback on this): Gas is $4.50 per gal where I live; printing costs all in are $15 per package (too high?); general operating costs per job $10; scanback $5, taxes (on net income after expenses) is figured at 30% (I have high state taxes). Average job is $90.
Looks like this: $90 minus combined after-tax expense of $50 nets me $40 / 3hrs (prep, travel & signing time) means I’m making $13.35 per hr. I covet your observations.
I can reduce travel time, prep time and signing time, but right now, business is slow so I take my time. I’m not missing jobs because I’m not getting job notifications. Everything seems to lean on each other in this business.

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Yes!, You’re family!!


I keep seeing these breakdowns but I disagree with the way they’re being used. This is about volume not individual. if you’re only getting a couple signings a week I get it but say you get 10 signings at $90 each, you would make $900. You aren’t putting over half of your revenue back. If I make $1000 in a week my biggest expense is gas. I get a 5000 ream box of paper once a week to a week and a half depending on workload. Ink is once every couple weeks or once a month depending on which printer I use (printer is a whole other topic all together). I don’t equate prep as an expense that’s part of the job. It’s hard to equate travel because you may get close signings or you may get some that are further away. Signing time should never take over an hour if you’re experienced.

In all, it’s about volume. Once this became full time never once did it ever feel like I making around minimum wage.


I’ve seen here many happy faces about the good deals they have gotten in their printer/scanner purchases.

Myself, I am not mechanical and don’t want to own any equipment I am responsible for since I can’t put two sticks together, let alone ‘fix’ a printer/scanner so my arrangement works very well for me:

I have a high-speed, low drag Kyocera (retail between $1200/$1500) with a 150 page output basket (it will actually hold closer to 175 pages output), a 100 page feed tray, it prints/scans, copies at 57 ppm and will FAX and I pay $50/month RENTAL plus $30/month service (I never need any service, thankfully since the K works so well) and this includes toner cartridges whenever I need them at no additional cost. It has a job build function so I can load multiple batches and they all come out as one file and it also accounts for mixed size paper. It correctly pulls from the letter/legal drawers as it recognizes each size paper as it prints. Twice or so I’ve had the service person come by -he likes me so he is at my office pronto- when I had a glitch I could have solved myself.

One signing pays for all and I have no ownership hassles because, like I said, I don’t want to have to figure out who to call if the K breaks down.

For those who will say I’m paying too much, believe me, the worry-free aspect of this arrangement gives me peace of mind money can’t buy.


Good to hear. I’m on my 2nd week, 2nd signing, so just getting going.



Thank you for your insights into this business. I agree with you on your points. I would like to offer my insights into your comments.

  1. Each market is different. Much of the advice that’s offered to new NSAs doesn’t take this into account. What happens in Detroit doesn’t happen in San Antonio…what happens in Dallas is different that what happens in Houston.

  2. Each State is different. When I’ve closed on a California Refi closings that have far fewer pages than a Refis in Texas. A Texas Refis contains (typically) between 175 to 240 pages. This factors into how much a NSA needs to charge to close a loan. More on fees further down.

  3. Regarding Fees. You state that NSAs should take reasonable fees. I wholeheartedly agree. This has many dependencies that are market dependant. New Notaries needs to analyze their cost of doing business, distance to the closing, printing costs, etc., before deciding on what’s fair for the market. In my situation I cover three counties in central Texas. These three counties cover nearly 2000 square miles. Round trip mileage for some covers 100 miles round trip. Factor in a 200+ Refi closing that takes 4 hours to prep, print,travel, and scan…my fee are as much as 3-4 times what a freshly minted NSA will accept. These newbies don’t realize they’re paying the SS or TC to close the loan and will soon be out of business by strangling their flow.

  4. We are a commodity service. I’ve seen far too many NSAs who bought into the ‘get rich quick’ taking anything that comes their way regardless if they will earn a profit. As such they’re the ones accepting low ball offers that drive the cost down for all of us. In my market its generally not quality that TC’s and SS are looking for, they decide on price only. Finding the TCs and SS that do appreciate quality are sometimes difficult to find, but when a NSA does find one they are a wonderful to work with. You’re right that relationship building is foundational to success in this business.

  5. Marketing. You advice is spot on. Unfortunately, this advice we both agree on is seldom transmitted to the new NSAs. Often they hear that marketing oneself yourself to TCs and the world will become sunshine and daisies with an overfilled bank account. They’re seldom told that to get the daisies to grow one has to do a lot of hard work weeding the pasture.

Some markets are over saturated with NSAs, meaning TC have a plethora of agents to draw from. Signing up with meetup groups, business groups, Chamber’s of Commerce, local real estate gatherings, etc., take a lot of time an effort that not many are willing to do.

Again, thank you for your insights. I wish you much future success.


Excellent advice! Slow and steady wins this race!

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From a seasoned LSA, well said girlfriend!

that is valuable and awesome news. my printer/scanner is owned, but the INK will put me in bankruptcy in no time!! Ha Ha!! :roll_eyes: :rofl: :sweat_smile:

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Thank you so much for sharing your experience and perspective. This information has value to it. I am coming to terms about the saturated area of metro Phoenix and will continue focusing on my GNW opportunities. At this point that’s all I’ve got.

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I own 2 dual trays by HP but I am very intrigued by this option of leasing and service plan. GOOD IDEA!
I am actually considering selling my equipment and going with this plan. Thank you for the info!

CA Thanks for your response. It was very helpful.

@Kristina1 Welcome to the Notary Cafe forum! :sparkles: This thread may be a helpful to you as a newbie/New Notary Cafe member.


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Exactly I too agree. Just keep moving forward.

I truly appreciate your support and positive input, but doing it in a constructive fashion. Easy to get discouraged and even confused. The positive input is priceless. Thank you!