Notary Public Census. The Numbers Are In. How will this effect your business?

Recently the National Notary Association (NNA) released its official 2012 Census of Notaries in the United States.  The recent recession has helped to account for a 9.3% decline in the number of licensed notary publics over the last five years.  It is the first decline since the NNA began conducting the census in 1972.

The collapse of the mortgage market has hit the nation’s mobile notaries hard.  Once it was common for a traveling notary to earn $3,000 to $6,000 per month without putting much effort towards marketing themselves.  Now there are only a few that are still able to have their notary business as their primary source of income.

Providing traveling notary services to our nation’s businesses has been effected as well.  With limited notaries comes an increased cost and limited scheduling options.  Before the mortgage collapse, it was quite simple to book a notary for an appointment and businesses had many notaries to choose to work with.

Today finding traveling notaries for popular appointment times, such as weekday services or short notice appointments, can have disappointing results.  Those that are available have higher fees or little to no experience, making the management of scheduling and management of their mobile notary service providers a challenge.

For many, outsourcing the scheduling and management of their notary requests has become an attractive alternative to an in house operation.  Benefits include cost control, improved communications and utilization of in house staff.  Outsourcing does not come without risks and asking a few probing questions of the service provider you are considering can help you in choosing a service provider to work with.

How long has the company been in business?

It’s a simple enough question, but one that’s important.  There are hundreds of nationwide mobile notary service providers (aka signing services or scheduling services) out there and you can put them into 2 categories.  First are the services that started before the mortgage crash, then those that started after.  Those businesses that started before the crash and weathered the storm are more likely to have better systems and stronger relationships with their clients and notaries than those who started after.

What segment does the service provider focus on, if any?

For some companies, a focus on mortgage closings is key.  While some need I-9 certification for remote hires, others have out of state vehicle deliveries.  Very few of the mobile notary signing services have any type of industry focus.  Most will provide services for mortgage loans, wills, I-9 verification, Trust documents and even taking pictures of homes and cars.  Those that are focused on the industry will have an understanding of your particular needs and be better able to adapt to changes in the market place.

What geographic area does the notary service cover?

Not all notary signing services offer nationwide coverage.  Some are regional, others are local and others offer services in both the United States and Canada.

What are their internet and e-mail security protocols?

Whether you’re placing orders or sending documents, chances are that at some point you will be providing non public information to your service provider through e-mail or web portal.  You need to know what, if any, security measures are in place to protect your information.

Company web sites should only transmit non public information through SSL and use e-mail encryption.

Web sites that are hosted on dedicated servers, rather than a shared hosting environment, are also more secure and in some cases required.

Ask the companies that you are considering, who their SSL vendor is and if they run any penetration testing of their website and database.

Are their notary vendors background screened?

While most states require applicants to pass a background check prior to becoming a Notary Public, those companies that require additional screening will ensure that the notaries that they work with are licensed and free from any criminal history.

Asking a few questions of the mobile notary signing service providers that you are considering will provide you with a better understanding of how the company can meet your needs.  It will also provide you with more confidence in the decision you have made.

N3 Notary 2013.  For information purposes only.