As I write this, thousands of runners are participating in the New York City Marathon. It’s 26.2 miles that transverse each of the five New York counties. They all paid, to the best of my knowledge the same fee. However, not all are treated equally. The Elite runners, those likely to finish in record or near record time are at the front of the starting gate. Why? So they do not have to “pass around” the routine runners going at a slower pace.
There are also Elite Signers. They may be intrinsically Elite, or considered Elite by others. The Intrinsically Elite group includes: the very rich, celebrities, public officials, officers of major corporations and a few others. They tend to have administrative assistants who handle their time for them. Some have the authority to sign their boss’s name on documents. Often the receptionist in the doctor’s office wants to sign his name on an affidavit. (S)he argues that having the ability to sign a prescription for narcotics is far more authority than signing a simple notarized document. It’s hard logic to refute, but the doctor must show ID and sign the same as other Elite persons. I have notarized for many stage and screen personalities, many I recognize on sight – but that is not “personally known” and they too need to show that government issued photo ID. Never be “star struck”, do not ask for an autograph on other than the docs or notary activity journal.
The considered Elite by others group is Elite in the eye of those who will profit from the transaction. To them taking the “best of care” to avoid spoiling the mood of the affiant is their chief concern. Woe betides the inept notary who complains about some wait time to their client! I once had a direct from the Loan Officer assignment to a hospital signing. The dollars involved where very big. The LO interviewed me on the phone and offered about ten times the standard fee. On one condition, all or nothing – the returned documents had to be absolutely perfect, not the slightest flaw. I got that check.
However, you DO want to handle the Elite signer a bit differently. To them time is of the essence. Always. It is their time that they cherish most. Let their administrative assistant know what is required at the table. A copy of the driver license, proof of insurance, certified check, whatever. You all know the basics of edocs, I’m not going to restate the obvious. To handle an Elite Signer you have to be an Elite Notary. Now you are going way beyond competent to reaching beyond perfection. It’s not that hard to do. Many consider punctual arrival or a bit early, as meeting the standard, and it is. But to excel, you have to have some imagination and do things that you probably cannot do on a regular basis. Offer the affiant, if your employer allows, to change the time or place of signing. If your appointment is for 4PM and a 1PM timeslot opens in your schedule, give them a call and offer the earlier time as optional.
Many are the document packages that some of my Elite Signers have signed. They “know the ropes” and appreciate when I offer them a choice of presentations. Do you want to see every document or just those that you have to sign or initial? But take care not to turn the pages too quickly! Prior to meeting, I review the docs carefully, putting a Post It where there is an easy to miss action. We all know the 1003 is signed at the top left, but some of the VA stuff is signed 3 times and sometimes once in the middle of the page; without the borrower name being preprinted. It’s nice to have a blue pen if that is required – it’s nicer to have that pen and a new (but tested) one in reserve. Do you hand the borrower copy over as if it were a stack of newspapers? Better is to supply the borrower copy in an envelope. Did you verify the “work order” address, company name, floor and room with the administrative assistant? Or, are you relying on the signing service to have it right?
Tough Question Time: Are they worth the extra effort? You generally will not get a fee increase after learning who/where you are assigned. Rarely will they tell you in advance. The “upside” is honing your skills in a top level environment. Perhaps you are allowed to leave your business card. Do well with the Elite Signers and you are at the top of the list for the routine work. We get few chances to really excel, seize the opportunity!