When it comes to that first assignment offer from a signing service, there are many ways to properly “vet” prospective companies before you get the call for an assignment — from researching its reputation online via sites like Yelp or the Better Business Bureau, to discussing the agency’s performance with Notary colleagues via LinkedIn discussion threads. But sometimes, the call comes last minute from a scheduler who is scrambling to fill a same-day appointment. In cases like this, there’s no time to conduct due diligence outside of asking a few pointed questions to the person offering you the job. Here are some questions provided by veteran signing agents that you might consider asking before accepting the assignment.
- What is your payment policy if the borrower fails to show up or refuses to sign the documents? It’s inevitable: Sometimes, the agent shows up for the signing, only to find that the signer is either absent, or simply won’t sign. In order to ensure that she will be compensated in such a circumstance, NNA 2013 Notary of the year Kathy Fletcher works out an agreement ahead of time with the hiring company that specifies exactly what she will be paid.
- What are you authorized to pay, and how quickly do you pay? Rather than offering what your usual fee is for the area, Fletcher recommends asking first what the company is willing and authorized to pay. “This way, I am aware more of how I want negotiations to proceed,” explains Fletcher. California mobile Notary and 2013 NNA Notary of the Year Honoree Marissa de Luna suggests this is also a good time to inquire about payment delivery. “Within 30 days is ideal,” says de Luna.
- Will you pay upfront for the first assignment? De Luna also suggests receiving the fee amount upfront if it is your first assignment with that company. “The fee alone can sometimes determine if a Notary is willing to take the job.” You might suggest that you’d like to help them out with their last-minute assignment if they will credit your PayPal account within 30 minutes of the call.
- How do you address negative rumors about your company? There’s no subtle way to ask a company directly if they’re reputable, says Marissa de Luna. “You can outright ask about the rumors you hear about the company, and ask why you should take the job given that they have a reputation of, say, not paying,” says de Luna. The company may be able to explain or dispel the rumor — or, if they can’t or are unwilling to discuss the issue, it’s likely not the right company for you.
- What is the full address of the signing location? Fletcher suggests requesting a complete address of where the signing will take place, not just a zip code. “The county I serve is around 10,000 square miles and parts of a zip code might be close and addresses in the same zip code might be a great distance away,” says Fletcher. “I keep a list of the zip codes I will travel to without additional charge at my desk, in my vehicle, and in my journal. If I do not know how far the address might be, I ask the calling client to search house address so I can quote the appropriate fee.”
Each of you will have additional priorities when accepting a job, such as safety concerns or the need for specific accommodations. Before entering an interview, create a short list of questions that reflect those values, and be sure to ask them of your potential employer before accepting an assignment.
If you are just getting started as a Notary Signing Agent, be sure to check out the article “Getting Started As An NSA” in the July issue of The National Notary magazine for more helpful, hands-on tips.