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 Re: What is a good rate to set and keep?
Posted by Laura_V on 11/25/09 11:57am

Re: What is a good rate to set and keep?
Posted by Marian_in_CA of CA on 11/25/09 5:47am Msg #312166

There really is no perfect rate for everyone. It all depends on multiple factors:

1. Your Experience and Knowledge
2. Your Business/Personal Expenses
3. The amount of competition in your area
4. The availability of work in your area
5. Your coverage area
6. Going through signing services or getting direct work
7. Individual circumstances of each signing assignment
8. Your office setup/technological capabilities
9. You marketing efforts
10. Your reputation.

What most of us CAN tell you, though, that $50-75 is generally way too low for anyone, on average, to conceivably accept in order to make a profit. That doesn't mean we can't occasionally accept it. But to make that a "standard rate" may make it difficult to be successful as a business person.

Now, personally... I don't really care if someone charges $65 because that's what they were told they'd be paid. That's their own business decision. I don't really understand how one could make a profit and run their business at that amount... but I won't chastise anyone for doing it. I also will not accept a signing service that tells me, "We pay $65 for this job and that's it." Well, my answer is usually the same, "I appreciate your thinking of me, but I won't be available to take that appointment."

I've taken lower paying loan signing jobs before (though never under $75), especially for ones that were super convenient or easy, but they are the rare exception rather than the rule. It meant my expenses for the job were much lower, and I could accept a lower fee and still maintain the profit margin I need to remain in business. I could not do that all the time, though. If I did, I'd be losing money and this would just be a really expensive hobby.

They key to all of it is to do a LOT of research and planning. You need to have a solid grasp of your expenses and the cost of a loan signing. Then you have to incorporate your profit margin and price yourself accordingly in order to remain competitive in your market. And that includes doing research on the other notaries in your area who offer this service.

One NSA might be able to easily charge and receive $150 a job, whereas another might find that $100 is difficult, if not impossible to get. Still others can't seem to get more than $85-$90, especially those who live in urban areas that are saturated with notaries. The good part about that, often enough, is that jobs will also be really close by, so expenses are often lower.

This was true when I live in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. Most of my appointments were within 5 miles of my home, often much less. I had to charge less because there would be another notary, literally, right around the corner that would also do it. But, in that instance, it worked okay because my expenses were lower.

Now that I live in a more "rural" area of sorts, the jobs I get calls for are much more widespread, often 10-30 miles away or more. That's time, mileage and all of the associated expenses that increase what I have to charge. What I could have charged $95 for last year now often needs to be quoted $110-$150 or more simply because I'm now in an area where it's necessary. And, I'm in the SAME county... just 90 miles north. But those 90 miles have a significant impact on my expenses. Signing services, especially, have trouble grasping this idea for some reason.

Even notaries in the same area will have different expenses. One notary may need to pay for childcare in order to make appointments at certain times, when another doesn't have that expense. Another notary might feel the need to charge $1 a page for fax backs because they stand at a manual fax machine... where another notary has a nice quick sheet fed scanner that scans the docs within moments and sends the fax via email to a email fax service.

Also, notaries must take in to account the simple cost of being a notary. Notaries in California, for example, will have a higher average cost on this than many other states. It costs us a TON of money just to maintain our commissions. That money has to come from somewhere. So, notaries in California would logically be charging more than others. And yet...many of them don't.

I've always said... and I will continue to do so:

If you don't have a business plan and you can't recite off the top of your head the general average cost of a loan signing in a given area as well as the profit margin you need... you aren't ready to be taking work.

Example: Today I was asked to do a signing in California City, which is an hour's drive away. Now, on a map, it looks closer but what most people don't realize is that I have Edwards Air Force Base in the way, and the only way to get to California City is by driving around the base. And, for those of you familiar with the Mojave Desert... that's kind of a big area.

So, I'm looking at two hours in my car. plus signing time. Signing services get really upset when I tell them my minimum price for going out to Cal City is $175. They just don't get it. Now, I know there are other notaries in the area that would charge less to go out there. I don't mind if somebody else take the job $80... go right ahead. But... after you factor in mileage, gas, time, printing, and everything else... where's the profit? What's the point of taking the job?
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