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December 28, 2022
NSA Tip: Preparing For Things To Go Wrong
Updated 6-6-22. As mobile Notaries, we love those days when everything goes smoothly. Documents are on time, they print accurately, you get to a closing early, the borrowers have copies of ID, sign in record time and off you go to the next appointment. But throw in a copier malfunction, power outage, severe weathr or vehicle breakdown, and your perfect day can easily turn into a nightmare.
We all live with the prospect of disasters — pandemics, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods and more — and chances are you have an emergency kit.
The Small Business Administration has an excellent step-by-step guide to help you keep your business running during an emergency. You can tailor it to fit your needs and keep a hard copy in a binder with other useful information such as an address book of your customers with a contact name and phone number.
It’s the everyday disasters that can cause real headaches and problems for your business. But if you have a plan and are prepared, you can easily make those headaches go away. Here are suggestions for dealing with some of the most common problems.
There’s hardly a Notary Signing Agent who hasn’t had a printer or copier go south on them right in the middle of preparing a loan package. Or worse, your computer crashes. Having access to a second printer, copier or computer makes equipment malfunctions easier to take. I have a copier both in my office and at home. Before I made that investment, I utilized a family member’s printer, and I kept additional supplies on hand.
Regardless of the situation, you’ll need to have all your key information backed up where it can be easily accessed. Using a cloud based system such as Microsoft Office 365 or Google G Suite allows you to access your information at anytime, anywhere in the world. It’s just a matter of logging into another computer to be up and running again. I also have my computer synced so that any change made in the cloud is made on my computer and vice versa.
An NSA Network:
Recently, I had an NSA contact me to say she couldn’t complete a signing because she had contracted the flu. She gave me the name and phone number of another local Notary. She had already spoken to him and confirmed he was available for that signing. He was part of my network and she knew she could trust him to handle the assignment on her behalf. Networking and building relationships with other Notaries in your area is not only helpful for referring business but to help cover closings.
A Paper Appointment Book:
An old-fashioned appointment book is an excellent tool to use as a back-up source in an emergency. If something unexpected happened to you that kept you from getting back to your office, how would you let your clients know? Give someone you trust access to your disaster plan and daily calendar. Explain to them a bit of your business and ask them to notify your customers of your inability to complete an assignment.
Daily Weather Reports:
When it comes to bad weather, knowing the weather forecast as a traveling notary is a necessity. Make certain to let your customers know of impending storms not just for the impact to travel but for receipt and delivery of packages. Depending on how severe the weather is, it might be best to turn down an assignment.
It’s important to let your customers know what bad weather you might be experiencing. Likely, your customer isn’t in the same locale as you are and if they are located in California, they won’t realize that in New York, you and the borrower are about to receive 12+ inches of snow. That way, your customers will be forewarned when you let them know the package was delayed or you need to cancel since you can’t get out of your driveway.
Practice your disaster plan strategy. It’s not enough to just have a plan in place. You need to know your plan will work. Periodically, test your backup equipment. Check on your notary referrals to remind them they are your backup. Pretend you have a power outage and go through all the steps to make certain you have your bases covered. Add to your plan when necessary such as the recent pandemic that required flexibility and additional tools such as masks and other PPE gear.
Being prepared alleviates stress, maintains good relationships with customers and speaks to your professionalism. While you can’t prevent an emergency you can make it manageable and limit the down time your business experiences.
Marcy Tiberio is a NNA 2015 Notary of the Year Honoree and owner of Professional Notary Services, Inc., in Rochester, New York. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.