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The most important rule of thumb in marketing is “Never Stop Marketing”. We all get tired of it and think that one day we will have enough business that we won’t have to market. This is where you are wrong. The day you stop marketing is the day someone else contacts your client and takes them away from you. We will go into some tips and tricks of how to market your business and yourself to build a successful Notary Signing Agent Business.
First of all, we will get into “Phone Etiquette”. Your phone is your lifeline and communication tool with your customers. Most Signing Agents use their cell phone and home phone for both business and personal. This is absolutely fine until your 3 year old child feels they can answer it for you. This may be fine and cute but companies calling you in haste to get their signing booked do’nt have time to talk with a 3 year old child. A teenager may answer the phone in the manner teenagers answer the phone with a “Ya”. Let us take these scenarios and use them in real life situations and see how many calls and referrals you get, then sit by your phone and wonder why it is you’re not getting any calls. Remember, this is a business you are running, whether it be in your office or in your home, it is a business. Answer your phone “Good Morning, this is ________ speaking” or “good afternoon” depending on the time of day. You can also answer “Good Morning/Afternoon _______Speaking”. You may also answer with the name of your business. If you have children and run this business from home, get a teen line, and designate a certain number for your business.
Next on our agenda is “Networking”. This is one of the few businesses that working with your competition can help you more than hurt you. In running the Midwest Notary Association we have the privilege of the Notary Locator. Quite often, when we’ve had signings booked and calls have come in or signings that we could have done but were a little too far, we would take the company to the MWNA Notary Locator and walk them through the process of finding a notary in our area. Doing this has accomplished two things; one, the company was not left scurrying looking for a Signing Agent and two, most companies that we have done this with now use the Notary Locator all the time. But rest assured that every time these companies need a Notary in our area, we get the calls. If you are involved with a Notary Network here is how this can work for you. We’ve all had the situation where we get a call but we’re already booked for that time slot. We just lost the signing. If this happens too often, then we’ve lost the client. With the networking, when you get one of those calls, forward it on to a fellow Network Member. By doing this you have accomplished two things. You didn’t leave your client hanging and desperately searching for another Notary and they will appreciate and remember you for next time. The second thing you have accomplished is your fellow Notary will appreciate the business and remember you the next time they have a similar situation when they can’t handle a signing.
The next Tip is “Understanding Marketing Basics”. We often wonder why we loose our customers. Why some companies just never call us back. We’ve been doing business for them for quite some time, never made a mistake yet we don’t hear from them anymore. The difference between you and some of the most successful companies is “Marketing”. We all know there are many new Signing Agents being trained everyday in every major city throughout the country. I have gone to many signings where the Borrowers have asked “How do you get hired to do what you do”? “How do you get trained”? “Can I do it?”. If I don’t take advantage of explaining and teaching them then I risk 2 things. I will definitely have the type of competition I don’t want and I will lose the income involved in the training process. This blurb leads back to Networking so we will get back to Marketing.
Marketing is what gets a company to notice you, and WANT to call you over and above every other Signing Agent in your area. The seven most important things in Marketing Basics are:
1. Your Company name
2. How you answer your phone
5. Company Branding and Brochures
6. Company Website
7. Company Correspondence (emails, letters, invoices, “Phone Etiquette”)
Choose a catchy yet professional “Company Name” to represent you. Many of us have a business outside the Signing Agent business and you should not mix the two. Keep them separate. I will use the example of a restaurant. Let us pretend I am a Title Company or Signing Service looking for a Signing Agent to do a closing. I call the number and get “John Doe’s Beasts and Burgers can I take your order”. Chances are I am going to hang up, thinking I got the wrong number. I made the mistake of answering the phone one day, “Hello” a long hesitation and the person then asked “Is this Midwest Notary Association“. Keep the names separate and the phone numbers separate as well, create less confusion for your client.
We have already touched on “Company Websites [http://www.mwna.net/content/view/207/58]”, our next step will be to move to “Professionalism”. How you portray yourself on the phone, and your appearance will reflect on your business. The one place many seem not to stop and think twice is on bulletin boards/forums/chat-rooms. Companies are viewing these boards. They see who you are and how you handle yourself. If you handle yourself unprofessionally, it will come back to haunt you. Many of us use pseudonyms to cover our identity, but companies will figure out who you are. They may ask the board owner or contact you through email just to find out. Forums can be a great resource but beware you don’t get caught up in the bickering and bantering. How you portray yourself will reflect who you are and how professional you are. The question that will come to mind for these companies is, “Will this person treat my client like this if something goes wrong or if the client asks a ‘Stupid Question’?’. Be aware of what you say and how you conduct yourself in every aspect of your business.
[ “Company Branding and Brochures”. Along with Professionalism comes image and appearance. Many of us want the companies to recognize the important part we play in their loans yet we don’t want to spend a little time and/or money to do so. As long as we maintain the image of a non-professional individual then you will gain that same amount of respect from your clients. Companies throughout the world spend hundreds and thousands to create the perfect image to represent themselves as professionals. Who would take Microsoft seriously if Bill Gates still programmed his software out of his garage? “In May of 1886, Coca Cola was invented by Doctor John Pemberton, a pharmacist from Atlanta, Georgia. John Pemberton concocted the Coca Cola formula in a 3 legged brass kettle in his backyard. My question is would you be drinking Coca Cola if the name was “Dr. Johns Concoction” instead of Coca Cola? The name is very important as is the image you portray.
Finally we come to “Correspondence”. As well as your signature, make sure your emails have proper grammar, punctuation and spelling. We have all gotten comfortable with a client or lazy in writing an email and left “Professionalism” by the wayside. Plain and simple, DON’T. Don’t let a bad day get the best of you. In the earlier days of our Signing Agent career we also ran a very large Construction Business with 35 employees. The stress of the Construction Business at many times left us a little less than courteous with our clients. Late payments were not tolerated, late docs were unacceptable and the mere thought that we would go to do a signing at 9:00 PM on a Saturday was totally absurd. We lost a few clients over that nonsense. Make sure all correspondence with your clients is always professional in appearance and your writing skills are at their best. When making a collection call, don’t accuse the company of nonpayment right for the word go. First let them know the purpose of your call and try to understand why you had not been paid. You could have forgotten to send your invoice, payment might already be out the door, or your invoice may have been totally overlooked. I can almost bet that every one of us at some point in time have forgotten to pay a phone bill or misplaced the cable bill. It gets tossed on a pile and with all the papers we juggle it just got buried and forgotten. Companies can run into similar situations and if you can’t understand that then you have just lost a client. A good collection call might go something like this “
(Jane Doe has a background in collections with a major computer company working in collections on government accounts for Millions of dollars every month)
“Hi my name is Jane Doe. I did a signing for you on [date] for [name of borrower] and ref #” [if there is one]. I wanted to check and see if that invoice is in your system for payment.” [While they are checking, you might chit chat with them a bit and say] “I just want to be sure that I reported everything as required to initiate the invoice being put into your system because sometimes I get so busy the I forget if I invoiced or not”. [Usually, once they see how old it is, you don’t have to ask when it will be paid they will offer up that information. If they do’nt, you can either leave it at that or ask] “When do you think a check will be mailed out”? [Do not ask when a check will be cut because they might cut it and hold it for a month so that info doesn’t help much in knowing when you might receive payment. Once they give you the answer of when payment might be mailed, comment] “I appreciate you taking the time to look that up for me and I will make some notes in my invoice. [At that point, ask who you are speaking to. This let’s them know that you ARE going to make notes and you ARE going to note who you spoke to and when.] Your client will see how professionally you handled the situation, did not make the accusation that so many others have made and made them feel comfortable with you. This will usually get your payment out faster and you have had the opportunity to show the company that their clients will be handled in the same professional manner in which you conduct all of your business.
We now move to “Advertising and Marketing”. No matter how busy you are never stop marketing, When you are busy market your business. When you are slow, market your business more. We all have the habit of letting our marketing go when business is good. The problem with that is when you are busy, that means some one else is slow. Your competition is now marketing and taking some of your clientele from you. Just because you have a client does not mean that they won’t try someone else’s services. You have to stay on top of your game. Fortune 500 companies don’t slack in advertising when business is good. They spend millions of dollars for their Super Bowl campaigns. When business is good, it means people are borrowing, which means loans have to be signed, and if we take a break from our marketing and advertising, then we have just lost a lot of business that we might have otherwise had. On the other hand when business is slow and you have time on your hands is the perfect time to go into a full blown “Marketing and Advertising” Campaign. Additionally, continuing to advertise can help you land that dream client that is high volume, high margin and most importantly, low maintenance.
Next we move onto “Services and Promises”. Promise your customer less and supply them with more is always the best practice. If you tell a client you will report the closing within 1 hour after closing and end up with back to back closings then you have just broken a promise. If you were to fax confirmation and are unable to send the fax then simply make a phone call and let your client know that the the closing was completed and that you will fax later. The best thing to do is never promise a time for fax backs or email confirmations but do get to them as quickly as possible. When you have completed a closing and have left the borrowers home, get in your car, pick up your cell phone and call your client or the loan officer or both. I have made it a habit to contact both the client and the loan officer to let them know that their loan has closed successfully. Everybody appreciates the call and referrals eventually come back.
Always make sure you have double checked all your documents for errors. Make sure all dates are in order, all signatures are in place and all Notarial stamps are affixed. There is nothing more distressing to a company than a less than perfect set of documents returned.
Next is “State and National Associations”. (Yes, this is where you say “I was wondering when he would try his sales pitch”) The truth of the matter is whether you join the Midwest Notary Association or any other association, the key factor is to join. Associations keep you up to date on what is going on in your industry and any changes being made in a timely manner. By joining associations you will get calls and in turn your membership will pay for itself in no time. There are literally thousands of companies out there that are using hundreds of databases to find Notary Signing Agents. The more you belong to the more likely you will be found. Signing up with companies is great if and when they have used your service. It is ironic that I am writing this article today, because I got a call for a closing. I asked where they had found my information and they told me of the database they had used. What is ironic is that I have done work for this company in the past but not for the same scheduler. It seems that your name is not distributed around the office for all schedulers to be able to use your service. Which brings me back to my point of the need to sign up with as many associations and database listings as you can. This is where companies are going to find you. I had worked for a title company in the past on several occasions (this was my best and highest paying client I had ever worked for). One day I get a call from a signing service for that same title company. I did the closing then called the title company to see why they chose not to call me direct this time (I got half the fee they usually paid). The scheduler that I had worked with in the past, quit and the new scheduler that took her position had always used a signing service for her closings. My point here is that your client is not necessarily your client. When you have built a rapport with a specific scheduler be sure to ask for referrals to the rest of the schedulers in that office. Final word is, join as many “Associations” (Midwest Notary Association first Wink) and Notary Listings as you can.
Did anybody notice that great word I used twice in the previous tip called “Referrals”. We often think of how expensive websites can be and how expensive associations can be but did you ever stop to think how expensive referrals are? For the most part yes referrals are free but our time is worth money. We work very hard to earn the respect of a scheduler for them to want to refer us on to their colleagues. Therefore, referrals do cost us time and since we work so hard at being professional, courteous, punctual and always available you have paid your dues to earn that referral. If you feel you have earned it, then ask for it. Many of us expect referrals yet never ask for them. You have to stop and consider the referrers situation. There is nothing in it for them. Also if they refer you to a colleague and you mess up the signing, it falls back on them. If the loan doesn’t close and it is not your fault, the colleague will still think twice and the referrer may get the blame. Make sure you have earned the referral before you ask for it because on your part it has cost you time and effort and on their part it may cause them grief. You must remember that your client owes you NOTHING but the agreed upon fee. The referral gains you everything. This is a one way street and it is all headed your direction. So when thinking of referrals, think to yourself, have I worked for it? Have I earned it? Do I deserve it? If the answer is yes to all three then ask for it but don’t expect it. Remember that if you keep your scheduler happy they will want to return the favor.
“Set and Track your Goals”. We all, at some point or another, have set goals for ourselves but did we keep track of those goals. Setting goals can be fun and not so fun. As we set goals we tend to get excited about the achievements we are setting for ourselves but when we don’t meet those goals then we tend to get discouraged. Also, more often than not, we tend to forget we set those goals and never go back and check to see what of those goals have we achieved. The first thing you want to do is set high goals for yourself, goals that may not be attainable. (No, I am not crazy). The reason for this is if we set goals that are easily attained, then we never truly meet our full potential. Two little stories I would like to share with you on the subject. When I was a young lad in high school my gym teacher asked me to stand with both feet together, he set a line approximately 3 feet away from me and asked me to jump to that line. So I did with ease. He then asked me why I had not jumped further and I replied that he only requested me to jump to that line. So he took away the line and asked me to jump as far as I could and I jumped approximately 5.5 feet. He then set the line at 6 feet and with a little more effort I made the jump. The other story is: I was walking through Wall Mart the other day and had to laugh at a T- viking style deer hunting hoodie I saw. (In my day it was said “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again”) The T- viking style deer hunting hoodie read “If at first you don’t succeed, lower your expectations”. Ok, back to what we were talking about. Set your goal a little higher than you would expect, write your goals down on a piece of paper and put that paper somewhere you are going to see it very regularly. Write your goals on a bright fluorescent piece of paper if you have to so that it catches your attention. Now, every day read your goals and aim to reach them by your deadline date. When first setting your goals, be sure to give yourself time to reach those goals, make short term goals (2 weeks to a month) and long term goals (3 to 6 months) and finally set your year end goals. Don’t set new goals until your old ones have been met and when they have, treat yourself to dinner 🙂
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write by Lionel