Starting your own mobile notary service can be a very stressful experience.When you’re a newbie notary public there are so many questions, so few answers, and very little help from your mobile notary peers.
Q & A with a Mobile Notary is a monthly article where we answer questions as asked by you, the mobile notary. This month’s questions are brought to you by Felise Robinson, a newly commissioned Notary Public and Marc Greco, Founder of N3 – Mobile Notary Service.
The Newbie Mobile Notary Office.
A: When setting up your mobile notary office you will need the following equipment:
•Computer (either a laptop or desktop)
•2 line phone system with Voice Mail
•Dual tray laser printer
•Fax machine, or if you’re using an internet fax service, a scanner
Q: I understand that as a notary public signing agent, I will receive large documents, mostly over the Internet by email or IP fax. I’ve never used IP faxing; will I still need a fax machine?
A: If you’re going to be using an internet fax service as part of your mobile notary business you will not need an additional fax machine, however you will need a scanner so that you can scan the documents you want to fax.
Q: How about for returning signed documentation? Is it better to send by mail or fax? For faxing, is it more efficient and economical to fax directly or by IP fax?
A: For returning documents most companies will require that you return the signed documents via an overnight shipping service such as FedEx or UPS.
In addition to shipping the documents some companies like N3 will require that you fax documents to them for quality review purposes. In these cases check with the company and see if you can scan and email them directly rather then faxing as this is the most economical way to go.
Q: I have an all-in-one inkjet printer. Is this good enough or do I need a laser printer?
A: You can get by as a notary public signing agent with an inkjet printer, but I strongly recommend investing in a laser printer. Laser printers print faster, they last longer, and have a lower cost per printed page then an inkjet printer.
Q: Am I better off buying an all-in-one/MFC laser printer, fax, copier, and scanner than buying the components separately?
A: You are much better off investing in a Multi function laser component rather then purchasing the components separately, there are smaller units that combine all the equipment you will need and can be a valuable asset to you as a mobile notary.
Q: Are all-in-ones reliable enough?
Q: What should notary public signing agents look for in an all-in-one?
A: Look for brand name MFC’s with a solid reputation like Brother or Xerox, then determine the cost per printed page for the machine, and finally check with your local office supply store and make sure they regularly carry the ink/toner for the machine you are considering purchasing.
Q: Do I need a personal one or one for a workgroup?
A: Get one for a workgroup as it’s a printer you can grow into and will save you the expense of having to buy an additional printer as your business grows.
Q: What is the minimum resolution that the scanner and printer need to have?
A: 600dpi will be fine.
Q: I plan to work as a notary public signing agent part-time, about 15 hours per week, and I’m considering a MFC that is supposed to print 7000 pages per toner cartridge. Is this sufficient or is it overkill?
A: It’s not over kill. An MFC laser is the right decision to make and 7000 per toner cartridge is perfectly respectable.
Q: The MFC printer I’m looking at has a 250-sheet paper tray, but no second tray. Is this enough?
A: I recommend getting yourself a dual tray MFC or at least one that you can add an additional tray to and here is why: when you’re printing email loan documents, some companies will require that you print out the documents on both letter and legal size paper. If you don’t have a dual tray for the job you will need to manually change the paper size and this can be a frustration experience when you realize that page 1 will need to be printed on letter size paper while pages 2 – 5 will need to be printed on Legal size paper only to realize that page 6 -10 will need to be printed on letter size paper. On and on this process can go.
Q: I will need to have the printer set up on my home network. In your experience do all-in-ones work well over networks?
A: In most cases yes, they will work well on a home network set up. If you have trouble setting up the printer on your network, call the tech support line for the printer manufacturer and they should be able to walk you though the steps to get everything up and running for you.
Q: How much should I expect to pay for a MFC?
A: Between $300 and $700.
Q: I have Yahoo mail and Gmail and I’ve noticed that I don’t receive some of the email with large attachments. This can’t happen with business documents. How do I avoid this problem? Do I need a different email service and can you make any recommendations?
A: This is a problem many mobile notaries face all the time. I would stay away from using Yahoo mail although Gmail is a great way to go. What I recommend for you in the future is getting a web hosting account set up with Earthlink to avoid the problem all together.
Q: Given that I mostly plan to use IP faxing, do I really need to have a second phone line dedicated to my notary public business?
A: Only if you want to give the phone company more of your money. So no, it’s not necessary…
Q: As a notary public signing agent, is it acceptable to ask companies to send me documentation by email instead of fax?
A: No it’s not. Your job as a mobile notary service provider is to be able to work with the companies that contract with you. If the company needs to send documents to you via fax, you better be able to accept them. Nothing will cause you to lose business quicker than not being able to receive documents in the format they are sent to you in.
Q: What other equipment do I need?
A: A car, tons of pens, extra ink for your notary stamp, backup cell phone battery, maps, GPS, a scheduling system, backup toner, and some sort of bag or brief case to carry your stamp and documents in.
Q: Is there anything else I should know?
A: Lots. Just take it a step at a time. At first, it may seem like all you’re doing is spinning your wheels and going nowhere slowly. But building a client base as a mobile notary takes time and resilience. Just keep at it. In time it will start to come together for you.
That concludes this month’s Q & A with a mobile notary.