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Notary Bulletin

Making Your Time Work For You And Your Notary Business

time-management-resized.jpgUpdated 5-24-21. How many of us have gone through periods when our Notary businesses have been slammed with assignments, when we’ve worked really hard, but haven’t had much to show for it at the end of the day? I know I have. As strange as it sounds, it’s possible — even easy — to be busy and financially not have much more than what I need to pay the bills.

But if I spend all my time working and completing assignments as the world’s most in-demand mobile Notary, how can I also be job rich and money poor?  It is easier than you think.  I can stay poor by underearning!  That means using my time to accept low-value jobs that leave me with no time to accept high value jobs and or do the activities that will build a strong, diversified business. 

I know mobile Notaries who rack up all kinds of billable hours but struggle to pay all their expenses, let alone grow their businesses. There are 3 keys to changing that; learning how to spend your time to your advantage, start asking your money to work for you, and decide how much value you bring to the marketplace.  As the saying goes, your income is in direct proportion to the value you bring to the marketplace.  

Let’s start with deciding how much you’re worth. If you want to find high-value clients, you must believe you have value to offer. If you don’t believe you can say no to low fees, hassles, and empty promises of “plenty of work down the road,” (the biggest lie you’ll ever hear), you’ll continue to attract those kinds of clients.  It may seem difficult to state what you want for the job; however, negotiating is a skill just like the ones you learn to be a notary and NSA.

Consider acknowledging the caller for asking if you are available.  Next, be sure to understand the scope of the job: Printing, traveling, notarization, scanning, drop to courier. State your fee. If there is push back, let them know you understand they work on a budget, and so do you. You can negotiate if there is room, but if not, let it go. You can take jobs from the Walmart of signing services, it means more volume but it also deep discounts on your fee.  Or you can decide you are the Nordstrom of Notaries, more custom service, willing to do a little extra when they need it, more knowledgeable as you don’t have to take 8-10 assignments each day and have time to work on your knowledge and skill. When I accept high quality assignments, I don’t have to fill my day with jobs, I have time to grow myself and my business and still be a six-figure earner. 

Here are suggestions for organizing your time for maximum effect.

Determining your schedule

From the outset, you need to determine how much you’re willing to work and when. Are you okay working 12 hours a day, four days a week, or is six hours a day, seven days a week better for you? I work seven days a week, however, my days are not filled morning till night with jobs.  Some of my days during the week are only 4 hrs long so working on weekends is fine for me. You can imagine that I get a lot of jobs on Sundays when everyone else is closed.

I’ve also determined what kinds of jobs I won’t take and locations I won’t travel to. For example, I will work in hospitals and jails but I won’t go to prisons. There are zip codes where I will only take jobs that begin before 4pm as a safety precuation. I will travel up to 30 minutes maximum, which is built into my fee. Beyond that I refer a colleague who is closer, as I want that time to handle more productive activities. And building a network of colleagues who you can refer work to only sets up work coming back your way.

Investing time in your business

It’s important to make room in your schedule for tasks that will grow your business. I start my day with an hour first of being grateful for the business and life I have, even as I prepare myself for more.  I plan what will get accomplished, not just what is on my appointment calendar. I spend another hour or more every day doing non-billable work, which is what I call "investment time," where I’m investing back into my own business. I don’t just check emails. I do targeted research into different revenue streams. I look at people who are doing what I want to do, and doing it successfully. I read blogs, books or watch videos. I scour the internet for ideas. These activities won’t bring me money today, but they pay off down the line.

Continuing your education

I don’t have a specific amount of time I spend on this every day, but once I identify a specialty niche or a new line of work I’d like to pursue, I consider whether I’ll need new skills or whether I’ll need to take classes. If I do, I will set aside the funds I’ll need and carve out however much time I need to study, complete courses or do whatever else is required for the new business line. Where did I find that time? I cut out jobs that are not a good fit for my business, but just because they are not a fit for me doesn’t mean they are not a fit for another Notary, So I refer even when I don’t have a job on the calendar. When I am on social media it is with purpose, then I get off. I follow those who inspire me, I hired a business coach, and continue to learn about laws outside my own state so when I am faced with an unusual notarial act from elsewhere, I know what it is and how to respond.

Marketing your Notary business

I spend about a half hour a day on discovering new marketing trends. The goal is to build new relationships and increase my business’ visibility. Some of the things I do include looking at how other industries and industry leaders are marketing their businesses. I don’t look at Notaries. I look at people in the financial industry, or wellness coaches, or people who speak at large conferences. Some of their practices won’t apply, but others will. 

I also have a website on which I can process orders, and I got the idea to offer e-commerce on my website through my marketing research. I have had this ability long before most Notaries determined they needed a website. This differentiates me from other Notaries who don’t have websites, or who have static sites where customers can’t buy products or services.

Doing the work

I spend about six hours a day doing work that brings in revenue now. This includes traveling to assignments, notarizing, Invoicng, and other administrative tasks. I include bookkeeping and administrative tasks in the same category as work because they help me keep money coming in a timely manner. That leaves me time to plan ahead in the morning, wrap up leftover tasks, and then stretch my myself to see what else is available.

As I find and develop new lines of business, I include those assignments in this six hours. And I constantly evaluate what I want to do and what is most profitable, then stop doing the activities that are less profitable or less appealing to me. For example, I dropped being a Fiduciary even though I had invested a lot of time in the course work.  I realized after my first client; I would no longer have time for my other lines of business, and I just didn’t have a passion for it.

The time budget I’ve described is not carved in stone but represents an average. Some days I might spend eight hours or more on assignments and only half an hour on the business-building tasks. Other days I’ll spend three or four hours on research marketing and education.

To keep your business on the right path, commit the time to finding and mastering new opportunities. Otherwise, a year from now, will the life you live be one you designed or someone else?  

Laura Biewer is founder of CoachmeLaura.com and owns At Your Service Mobile Notary in Modesto, California. She also teaches seminars for the National Notary Association and is a regular presenter at the NNA’s annual Conferences.

15 Comments

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Michelle RIley

16 Jan 2018

Great advice, Laura!

Brenda Louard

22 Jan 2018

Excellent read. I am inspired to take my business to the next level this year. Thanks for sharing. Best.

Sheryl Caldwell

18 Feb 2018

Great read... Thanks for the nudge on the importance of time management skills

Bob Ssekyanzi

19 Feb 2018

Great inspiration. Also, I would like to know what is comprised of the Process Serving document.

Dilip Patel

10 Aug 2018

I own a Stationery store so lots of people find my services real helpful. Everything under one roof. Web services, Faxservice, Printing, Scanning Service. This would bring in lots of extra business on top of the Notary services

Awilda Enid Balanta-Gonzalez

11 Aug 2018

Management Skills are a must

Awilda Enid Balanta-Gonzalez

11 Aug 2018

Great Advice

Dalton Montgomery

14 Feb 2020

I had my notary for about 15 years and it expired following the 2008 crash. I worked primarily in resorts sales; very different from loan documentation. How do I get up to speed on making this a self owned business. I have saved 350 NNA emails over the years waiting for this opportunity to resurface. Las Vegas is thriving right now and many that I know in Real Estate show interest in helping.

National Notary Association

14 Feb 2020

Hi Dalton. This article has some information that may help you get started: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2018/08/building-a-successful-notary-business

Karen

31 May 2021

I’ma new NSA still trying to get assignments. Everyone wants experience, but I can’t get the experience. Help

National Notary Association

02 Jun 2021

Hello, Karen. You may find the information in this article helpful: https://www.nationalnotary.org/notary-bulletin/blog/2021/01/where-start-notary-signing-agent-work

Chrissy

31 May 2021

Once I got the the spelling error I stopped reading- attention to detail- isn’t that our business?

June Siegel

01 Jun 2021

I'd love to know why there are huge discrepancies in notary fees from state to state. Why do some states barely have any regulations and others make it so it's just not worth your time for all the training. And how do people go about changing those laws so that they keep up with the cost of living?

Fontonya

02 Jun 2021

Thank you!

Shay

11 Jun 2021

This was a great article. I’m finding that specific jobs from a direct user not beneficial to my business considering the time it takes to travel to the office and now their new offices don’t have an after hours so I’m making double the triple but my fees are still the same.

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