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Your Guide To Building A Successful Notary Business

MAG18-July-Lightbulb-in-Box-450x255px-large.jpg(Originally published in the July 2018 issue of The National Notary magazine.)

Building a business is a lot like sending a rocket to the moon. They both take careful planning, patience and hard work to succeed, and you don’t succeed all at once — you have to make the journey in stages. A lot of people who become Notary entrepreneurs think that they can just pick up a commission, buy a seal and journal and wait for customers to line up at their door. It doesn’t work that way.

To succeed, you have put in the time and effort to build a diverse customer base and keep it thriving and growing. The most experienced mobile Notaries all say that having other types of clients helps them keep business going during economic downturns.

But figuring out where to start looking for customers and how to introduce yourself to them can be daunting. We asked successful Notaries from every corner of the country about their experiences, suggestions and successful marketing strategies. We’ve used their stories and feedback to put together this step-by-step guide to each stage of building a successful business.

STAGE 1: Laying The Groundwork

Whether you’re a part-time or full-time Notary entrepreneur, the most important thing to remember is that success takes time. It’s not instant and it’s not easy. Few Notaries find high-paying and rewarding work when first starting out. A crucial part of getting business is finding and introducing yourself to potential customers. While every Notary’s community is different, here are some good places to get started.

Join Your Local Chamber Of Commerce. One of the best ways to start networking with potential customers is joining a local chamber of commerce in your community. A chamber of commerce is an organization of local business owners who meet regularly to make contacts, promote their services, organize and participate in community events and advocate for local business interests.

While there’s usually a membership fee for joining a chamber of commerce, it pays off in networking opportunities. Cheryl Casebolt of Simi Valley, California, attended chamber of commerce meetings where she and other local entrepreneurs would sit together, introduce themselves and tell other attendees about their services. “At any table I sat at, I would hand out business cards to people and mention my Notary work. Any person there might need a Notary,” she said. As Casebolt got to know more people, they started calling her for more Notary assignments and referring her to others.

Notarize For Neighbors And Friends. If you’re just starting out and want to get some experience under your belt, a good place to start is offering to notarize documents for neighbors and friends. Once you’ve performed a few successful notarizations, you can ask them to leave you a review online or ask them to mention you if anyone else they know needs a Notary.

Lucia Piccolino of Scranton, Pennsylvania, started as a Notary in 2017 helping her boyfriend with his accounting business. Her boyfriend’s clients remembered her work and started bringing her more documents to notarize and referring her to other customers. Using these customers and online marketing as a starting point, Piccolino established her own successful business performing loan document signings along with general Notary assignments.

Participate In Neighborhood Activities And Community Events. Business venues aren’t the only place you can reach customers. You can find many people in need of your services at sporting events; fundraisers by local groups like the Elks Lodge or Knights of Columbus; and school trips for students in your neighborhood. When introducing yourself, ask people to tell you about themselves. If they sound like they might need your services, mention you are available to perform notarizations and offer to share your contact information or leave a business card with them.

“Make an effort to get to know people in your local community. Get your contact number in their phones. That’s where you want to be for easy Notary referrals,” said Valerie Barrett of Orange County, California. “Parents at schools need notarizations for permission slips for their children to go on field trips or take part in sports. If you are available and make yourself known as a Notary, people will recognize your name.”

STAGE 2: Learning The Ins And Outs Of Different Businesses

Once you’ve gotten your name out in the community, you’ll need to learn about businesses and organizations in a variety of different fields. Some of the most common local industries that offer Notary assignments are health care, legal and real estate, but each has its own needs and requirements.

Nursing Homes, Hospitals And Health Care Facilities. Patients at health care facilities and their families often need documents notarized, and many of these facilities call on the services of independent mobile Notaries. However, there are a few important things you should know.

The first is to remember that a signer in a hospital or senior care facility may be medicated or have a condition that affects their ability to communicate or understand what they are signing. Always check that the client is willing and aware of what’s going on. Never proceed if the signer appears confused or you have reason to believe the signer is being forced to sign against their wishes.

Serious medical situations can leave signers and their families highly stressed and emotional. It’s important to be courteous and considerate of the signer’s emotional state, said Katrice Jones of Cleveland, Ohio, who regularly notarizes in hospice care facilities and nursing homes.

“Always go in with a pleasant attitude and a smile,” she said. “Treat them the way you would want your loved ones treated in that situation.”

Some facilities may have extra requirements for Notaries who are visiting patients with serious health conditions. For example, Jones is asked to provide proof of a TB test when visiting some facilities. At other locations, state law may require a patient advocate or ombudsman to be present to protect the signer against potential fraud or abuse.

If you’d like to offer your services at a hospital or care facility, a good place to start is contacting their administrative office or a staff social worker, case worker or ombudsman to see if they have a need for a Notary. If you’re asked to do a notarization, Jones recommended contacting the facility 24 hours in advance to confirm the signer has an acceptable form of ID ready.

Attorneys And Law Firms. While large firms are likely to have Notaries on staff, a smaller firm or sole practitioner may welcome the convenience of having a local Notary available when clients are signing important legal documents. Introduce yourself to the receptionist and offer to leave a business card or brochure with your contact information so they can reach you if they need a notarization done.

Remember that law firms expect a high degree of professionalism. Be sure to dress in appropriate business attire. When you’ve finished, check your work to be sure the Notary certificate and your journal entry are complete, correct and your seal is affixed properly. Careless Notary mistakes are a sure way to lose business.

Real Estate Agents. Local real estate agents have a lot in common with you: They are always trying to reach new customers, and doing so requires a lot of socializing and making contacts with their neighbors.

When introducing herself to real estate agents, Jones said she’s a big fan of face-to-face contact. “I will start with a phone call or social media message, contact them and tell them I’m a Notary, and suggest that we meet for coffee or breakfast and discuss if I can help their business with notarizations.”

Another approach Barrett suggested is offering to help distribute a local agent’s flyers or promotional materials in your neighborhood along with your own contact information. Barrett also suggested stopping by real estate open houses in your neighborhood with a box of doughnuts and your contact information for the real estate agent on site. “Make the effort to say hello,” she said.

Of course, this is just a small sample of the many types of local businesses that can use your Notary services. The important thing is to find them, introduce yourself and make yourself available.

STAGE 3: Taking On The Big Challenges

Notaries who take the time to establish a strong customer base and outstanding professional reputation are far more likely to get requests from bigger organizations to notarize high-end business transactions. These type of assignments are challenging but are a potential source of higher income and can open the door to working with important clients in your community.

Mortgage And Financial Institutions. Assignments for mortgage companies and financial institutions can be very lucrative. Some Notaries were offered additional work by mortgage firms after gaining experience as Notary Signing Agents. Others were referred to financial institutions by other customers. For these types of assignments, Notaries have to bring their “A” game to the table.

“Big companies don’t want a cheap, careless Notary,” said Kelly Charpenet of Santa Monica, California. “It’s one thing to notarize a passport application, but it’s another thing to notarize when people are transferring multimillion-dollar homes. It’s serious business. They pay for people who know what they are doing.”

Don’t Get Stuck In One Niche. Every Notary’s experience will be different, and these are just some of the many types of opportunities out there. The important thing is never get stuck in one niche.

“You don’t want to notarize just for banks. You can’t just do loan signings,” said Kelly Charpenet. “You need a wide variety of customers and services — a whole different bunch of income streams that can become a big ocean.”

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association

Additional Resources:

Alternate Income Opportunities

 

 

6 Comments

Add your comment

Casey lewis

08 Sep 2018

Print

Marian Pullins

09 Sep 2018

How do I become a Notary rLicensed

National Notary Association

11 Sep 2018

Hello. The NNA can assist you with the commissioning process for your state. You can find more information here: https://www.nationalnotary.org/become-a-notary

jonathan Levy

07 Jan 2019

Great article and inspirational! For those of you who are looking for a directory where you can list your website and services for free visit, https://Notarywide.com. This is a nationwide directory where you can list all the services your offer within your town. city and county.

Autumn Caudill

07 Jan 2019

I don’t agree that you can’t just do loan signings. I know many people who only do loan signings and they are making 5-6k a month. They work directly with escrow companies though, not signing services.

Sonita Leak

10 Jan 2019

Thanks, this was a GREAT read!

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