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## How To Set Your Pricing As A Notary Signing Agent

Without a doubt, one of the most difficult parts of starting a professional service is pricing your services.

So you want to leave your secure, full-time 8-5 year job that guarantees you a weekly income to start a signing agent business. You saw an ad in the local newspaper or on the Internet telling you how you can make $100,000 a year. You bought this ad, you took a course, you studied the training and now you want to go. Some key factors that this course did not teach you were “How to Run Your Own Business”, “Business Etiquette”, “Marketing”, “Research and Development” and a million and one other things to be successful. Well, I’m not about to claim to know a million things, but I’ll try to help with the other “ONE”, “The Do’s and Don’ts of Pricing;.

If you’ve done your research, you have a good idea of how much competition you have, you know where your competition is, and how much your competition is charging. (No? I didn’t think so, but I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt.) Here are the key factors to know. If you’ve already done this research, you’re miles ahead of your competition who took the same class you did. You will also find that most of your successful competitors have done their homework and are likely aware that you are entering the industry and are also preparing for a major marketing campaign to replace yours. How will you compete for the same market share? If you think lowering the price is going to do the trick, you better think twice. This can be a great initial trick, but eventually it will come back to bite you every time.

I’ll start with the “No need to talk about prices”. Many who have gone into this business without proper training and guidance have failed and are now returning to an 8-5 job. I will try hard to help you succeed where others have failed. If you’ve done your homework and learned what your competition is charging, you’re probably thinking, “I’ll just charge them less and I should get a ton of business, and after I gain experience, I’ll raise my prices.” I know that’s what you’re thinking because every message board I’ve read, every chat room I’ve been in, and every training website I’ve researched that has to do with signing agents tells you to do the same I’ll use an example first and then get into the meat and potatoes of “Set Pricing”. Let’s say you find that most of your competition is charging around $150.00 per signature. You’ve done your math on all the expenses and you think you can do this job for half that and still make a profit. So you decide you’ll charge $75.00 per signature, and after six months to a year you’ll raise your prices to $100.00. That’s still $50.00 less than your competition and your customers will still be happy with your rates. Before reading on, I want you to think hard about “How viable is this strategy”?

As I have said in previous articles, I owned a very large construction company. Suppose ten contractors bid on building an addition to your home as an office. Contractor 1 comes and says $20,000, contractor 2 comes and says $20,200 and nine out of ten contractors tell you the same thing within $500 of each other. Contractor 10 says $9,999. If you’re smart, you’ll stop and think twice and probably ask yourself “What’s wrong with this picture? Either this guy is an idiot and doesn’t know what he’s doing, or he forgot half the addition, like now my roof and floor.” The point is, you most likely won’t be using this contractor. So the cheapest too doesn’t work. The other factor of going half price and raising prices later doesn’t work for this reason either. For ease of calculation, let’s say your competition charges $200.00 per signature and you charge $100.00 per signature. After 1 year, you raise your price by $50.00 and you are still $50.00 cheaper than your competition. Your customers will NOT be happy no matter how much cheaper they are because you just raised your rates by 25%. That’s still a raise no matter how you slice it. The cheaper, augmentation technique won’t make you work or still annoy your client. The other thing to keep in mind when you’re charging much less than your competition is that you’re working twice as hard and spending twice as much gas (double all your efforts and expenses) as your competition for the same amount of money. Between you and me and any successful business, this is the road to failure.

It’s much easier to overprice your services and offer discounts to your customers; this way, clients perceive that they are getting a deal and you are still getting a market rate for your services, rather than underpricing your services. hoping to increase them later once customers are “hooked” on your way of doing things.

For those of you who have been in business for a while and are well established, but are losing business to the low-level players in our industry, try giving your customers a little discount. TELL THEM **“This month I will give you 10% (or whatever % you see fit) on all your closings and extend this offer to all planners in your department.”** Not only have you come close to using yourself more this month, you’ve only indirectly asked for one **“reference”**. if you land 1 additional signature this month from a referral or your client uses you one more time instead of sharing the work with the competition, you’ve made your money back. I’m betting you’ll not only get more from the programmer, but you’ll get additional programmers contacting you. As a general rule, we don’t tend to refer friends for business, but we sure do tell them about a sale.

My recommendation is to find out what the average price of your competition is, set your price within the same range, and then offer a discount from there. If you think you could do it for half the price, give your client a 25% discount for new customers and then a 10% discount for their first 10 signings. This not only allows you to enter the market, but also allows you to offer an extended discount and charge the same rate as your competition in the long run, but now you are also helping to keep the signing agent industry a viable market for all

There is always the risk of overpricing your services at some point. There are only two important truths to keep in mind. If you don’t charge what you’re worth:

- You are guaranteed to burn out quickly; i
- You’ll resent your customers for not giving you a decent life and start treating them like dirt, a surefire formula for failure.

I would suggest that you go to your competitors’ websites and look up prices. This doesn’t mean you should charge or copy your competitor, but prices are there and are all over the internet. (Remember my notes on websites, this is another good reason NOT to include your prices on your web pages) take 10, 20 or even 30 sets of prices, add them all up and then divide by number of prices The formula will look like this: (I will use 8 sets of numbers not actual prices)

Calculate the mean of the following set of numbers:

126, 134, 155, 101, 144, 138, 151, 139

Step 1. 126 + 134 + 155 + 101 + 144 + 138 + 151 + 139 = 1.088

Step 2. There are 8 numbers in the set.

Step 3. 1.088 , 8 = 136

This gives you the average price charged by your competition.

Below I will list some of the things to consider when setting your price. 1) Equipment

- computer
- Laser printer
- Laser fax
- scanner
- portable
- Phone
- vehicle
- Office or home office
- desk
- stapler

2) Service

- Internet (high speed if available)
- Wireless Internet (Laptop Office)
- Phone
- long distance
- Secondary fax line
- Car maintenance (oil changes, tires, breakdowns, wipers, washer fluid and everything your car will need for repairs)
- Equipment maintenance
- Additional utilities for the home

3) Consumables

- gas
- Lunches and snacks on the go
- Toner for printer and fax
- Printer and fax drums
- paper
- pens
- magazines
- Grapes
- Paper clips of all shapes and sizes
- Document fasteners (depends on what you use)
- Stamp and/or stamp (depending on your state’s requirements)
- All the money you spent on training materials
- All the money you spend and want on memberships of different organizations and notarial listings
- The time you spend on research and marketing
- Business cards
- Thank you cards
- flyers
- website
- Software (accounting, web design, spreadsheets, PDF, etc…)
- Clothing (business attire)
- Stamps

4) Everything else

- Time away from home and loved ones
- Last minute signings (You’re in the middle of dinner and you’re running away)
- Dates/evening engagements cancelled
- The documents are late and you are on the road until 1:00 am
- Signings have been canceled and you have already rejected 2 for this time slot.
- This list can go on forever and you will learn this after you have been in the business for a period of time. You will get angry with clients, you will be very stressed, you may have to pay for a message or therapy sessions.

If I have left out some items from the list that you think should be included, please feel free to let me know and I will be happy to add it to the above lists. webmaster@mwna.net

Midwest Notary Association offers a full line of notary training for notary signing agents nationwide. Click on the following link to view a sample video of the Notary Training CD www.mwna.net/trainvid/ [http://www.mwna.net/trainvid]

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