Trial & ErrorI’ve spent a lot of money on various printers, scanners and other equipment in the search for the best, most streamlined and efficient way to run my mobile notary business. This article is intended to save my fellow mobile notary public time and money. I also hope to save you the hassle of researching how to make all of this stuff work. Let’s start with the most frequent question I’ve received since the article was published, what type of printer do I use and how do I print mixed paper sizes?
Recommended Printer & How To Print Mixed Paper SizesI currently use a Brother HLL6200DWT Dual Tray Printer connected to an HP 8300 Elite desktop PC. I normally use a Mac laptop, but when it comes to printing mixed paper sizes like you’d see in a loan doc package, a PC is the way to go. Unfortunately, for all their ease of use and simplicity, macs just don’t have the necessary printing capabilities to handle this task. There are some workarounds out there such as using Parallels Desktop with a copy of Windows 10 Pro running on top. However, after extensive research, I found that the juice just wasn’t worth the squeeze. It was much easier, cheaper and less complicated to simply buy an inexpensive PC to handle printing mixed size PDFs. If you’re doing a decent amount of loan signings, the small price tag is easily recouped with just a few loan signings, and the time it will save you is invaluable. Not to mention you’ll have a backup computer in case your laptop is stolen or crashes.
Ok, back to the printer. The reason I like Brother is that they’re inexpensive, reliable and the generic brand toner cartridges are dependable and cheap. I’ve had my Brother laser printer for almost four years and have printed tens of thousands of pages without issue. I’ve never had a single paper jam or malfunction. The toner cartridges cost about $15 if you buy the generic brand vs $120 for the name brand. The generic cartridges last between 8,000 - 10,000 pages, are a fraction of the cost and have never let me down. I recommend purchasing an extra cartridge, because as we say in the Navy, “two is one, and one is none.” Don’t get caught in the middle of printing a loan package and have the toner cartridge run out. Always have a backup.
High-Speed ScannerAlmost as important to any mobile notary is a quality high-speed scanner. I’m currently using the Fujitsu ScanSnap but I’ve also used the Brother ImageCenter scanner as well. They can both handle about 50 pages at a time and scan about 25 pages per minute. This comes in handy when scanbacks are required and it’s also useful for keeping digital copies of receipts, invoices and other important documents. I use a program called Evernote to scan, index and search all my important paper documents like receipts, invoices and even my E&O insurance and notary commission. Evernote reads the scanned pages then indexes them using OCR text recognition which allows me to quickly search any document I’ve ever uploaded to the service. You can search from the desktop application, the Evernote website, or the mobile app. You can also apply tags and categories to scanned documents which makes compiling receipts a breeze during tax season. There is a free version and the premium version costs about $70 per year and is worth every penny. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed to reference a piece of paperwork while out in the field and was able to simply pull out my phone and find what I needed. They have a friends and family referral program, so just send me an email and I’ll send you the referral code for a discount.
Be careful not to upload your client’s confidential documents to your Evernote account though, as this could be considered improper handling and storing of their personal information. I recommend setting up a separate folder on your computer for scanning client documents and be sure to delete those files as soon as you’re finished. Keep the two separate, Evernote for your documents, and a folder on your desktop for client documents. Delete the contents of that folder at the end of each day to keep your client’s sensitive information safe.
Stamps, Stamps & More StampsThere are a number of products and supplies I use to help streamline the notarization process, but stamps have definitely saved me the most time. I can remember handwriting my name, the venue, etc., on every certificate and journal entry during my first few months as a notary. I quickly got tired of this and invested in a bunch of stamps. I now have stamps for the date, jurat, acknowledgment, state, county, and a "See Attached" stamp for when I need to add a loose leaf California certificate. If you are new to the notary business, take my advice and buy some stamps so you don’t have to write everything out. It’ll save you a ton of time. You should also purchase at least two notary seal stamps. Could you imagine if you lost or broke your notary seal stamp and had to wait 4-6 weeks to get a new one? Think of all the money you’d lose and clients you’d frustrate by not being able to notarize documents. Spend the extra $27 and have a backup. I prefer the smaller stamps because they fit better in the sometimes ridiculously tight areas they expect you to stamp on certificates.
I like Trodat brand stamps because they’re inexpensive and reliable. Here’s a list of the sizes I use and what I use them for:
PensNot sure what pens to use? I find this is a personal preference, but I like the Pilot G2 Fine Point pens. I like them because they don’t tend to bleed and they leave a crisp, clean line. The fine point or ultra fine point are great for when you need to cram your signature or other information into a tight spot on the docs. If you’ve ever had to have your signers perform a powers of attorney, you understand how important a fine point pen is. You can purchase refill cartridges as well to save some money. A good tip I picked up from Laura Biewer from At Your Service Mobile Notary is to have some large grip pens for signers who might have issues with arthritis.
A Mileage Tracker and So Much MoreThe Automatic PRO is a connected car device that plugs into your OBD (Onboard Diagnostics) port in your car. It tracks mileage in a downloadable spreadsheet for mileage reimbursement and allows you to categorize each trip as either business or personal, all from your phone. This makes keeping track of your mileage simple and efficient. It also keeps track of where you parked, gives you real time location tracking and has built in diagnostics. It takes about 30 seconds to plug in and there’s no monthly fee for the 3G connection. I drive a Ford C-Max hybrid and the Automatic PRO didn’t quite fit when I installed it and tried to close the plastic cover. Not a problem, just purchase an OBD extension cable and tuck everything up inside the OBD compartment.
As mobile notaries, we can’t work without our cars. The Automatic PRO allows you to check the health of your vehicle and will easily decode check engine light, right from your phone. You simply open the free Automatic app and it tells you why your check engine light is on. If it’s a minor error like low tire pressure or oil change needed, you can clear the code and reset the check engine light. If it’s something more serious, you can plan ahead with your mechanic and make sure they aren’t trying to take advantage of you since you already know what’s wrong. I had a check engine light pop up for a fuel system error last year and was able to lookup the code online, find a youtube video on how to replace the part and even ordered the part online in less than fifteen minutes. I saved myself $200 by replacing the fuel evap solenoid myself and also avoided a trip to the mechanic. Doing that one repair myself, paid for the cost of the Automatic PRO, and then some!
If all of that weren’t enough, you can even connect Automatic PRO to your Amazon Alexa! You simply say “Alexa, ask Automatic how much gas I have” and alexa will tell you if you need to fill up before that early morning loan signing you have to drive across town for, so you can plan ahead. You can do all of this without having to go outside, turn the car on and check the fule gauge. You can also connect it to a bunch of apps on IFTTT (If This Then That). It will even give you braking and acceleration stats to help improve gas mileage or see if your kids or the valet driver have a lead foot when driving your car. It can also be used as an anti theft device since it provides real time tracking info.
Timbuktu Command Messenger BagI’ve listed off a ton of stamps and other equipment, but where are you supposed to put it all when you’re on the go? I’ve tried a few different bags and my favorite is the Timbuktu Command Messenger Bag, size large. I can easily fit every piece of equipment mentioned in this article (minus the printer, scanner and computer of course) as well as my mac laptop, notary journal and a few other items. It has a ton of pockets to keep me organized and ready for anything. There are multiple adjustment points and a sturdy padded strap, not to mention stylish design and rugged durability. The Timbuktu Command Messenger Bag is essential to my mobile office.
Other Recommended Products and SuppliesI won’t spend too much time here, but here are some other helpful supplies I recommend keeping in your notary bag.
- Staple Remover
- Moleskine Classic Notebook for journaling and keeping track of notes and ideas
- Mini stapler
- Rubber finger tips for flipping through pages
- Clipboards for medical patients or when you need a solid surface to sign on
- Wisp disposable toothbrushes. Don’t show up to your appointment with dragon breath. Put a pack of these in your bag/car with some travel size mouthwash, your clients will thank you.
- Small Post-It notes
- iPhone Charger
- Two port USB wall charger
- Compact Macbook charger
- Extra printouts of loose leaf California jurat & acknowledgment certificates
- Mophie battery pack for your phone - I use this one a ton! It also helps when I’m tethering my phone’s data connection to my laptop and don’t want to plug in a pesky cable
- Magnifying glass with light for signers with vision problems or when you run across super fine print on documents
- Signature guide card for helping signers with vision problems
- Thumbprint pads
- Stamp ink
- Reading glasses in various magnification strengths for the visually impaired
- California notary handbook
- ID Checker guides, U.S., Canada & International
- Business card holder, business cards and marketing materials
- Recision calendar
- Signing presentation guidelines printout
WardrobeThis might seem like an odd thing to recommend, but I think it’s relevant. Have you ever had a loan signing in the heat of summer and the signers don’t have AC? You’re sitting there in slacks and a collared shirt sweating your face off at the signing table while the borrowers are in a tank top and shorts. They don’t have to worry about looking professional, but we do. I think we’ve all been there and it’s not fun sweating through your nice collared shirt and slacks, particularly when you’ve got another appointment afterwards. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. There have been some great advancements in professional work attire that look good and keep you dry. I recently switched out all my work clothes for the following.
- Pants - Rhone Commuter Pants. The website doesn’t do them justice. They look way better with a tucked in collared shirt. They’re moisture wicking, breathable, very stretchy and comfy and have some other cool features. They’re all I wear now.
- Shirts - Bonobos. They have a unique system for fitting you with the best possible style and cut. They have several cuts, lengths and fabric weights for all their shirts. You order online and they have a great return/exchange policy. Order a few different cuts and lengths, see what fits best then return the rest once you figure out what’s right for you. This saves you time and money since you won’t need alterations at the tailor and they’ll keep you looking sharp. They have some awesome lightweight summer fabrics that keep you cool and they even offer discounts for military and veterans.
- Undershirts - again with the sweating thing, but it’s a real issue for some of us. I’m allergic to antiperspirants so I can’t use them to keep the sweat monster at bay. These undershirts from Thompson Tee have some cool tech that keeps me dry and comfortable so I can avoid looking like I just ran a marathon in 90% humidity.
Suggestions? Comments? Critiques?If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. If you have some suggestions, I’d love to hear them! I’ve had tremendous help from other notaries along the way and I want to return the favor, so let me know how I can help. You can send me an email or connect through facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. You can also leave a comment at the bottom of the page.
Full disclosure, I personally own and use all the products linked to on this page. This article was written using what are called Amazon Associate links. If you click on then purchase one of the Amazon products linked on this page, I will recieve a small commission for promoting the product. If you enjoyed this article and feel like you've benefitted from the information, you can help me out by passing it on to others and by purchasing the items from the links on this page.
Thanks for reading,