More and more Notaries are seeking new ways to increase their income by offering more services to their local clients. One way — which requires minimal training and tools you probably already own or have access to — is becoming a field inspector.
Richard Law, founder of Society of Field Inspectors (SOFI), has been a self-employed field inspector for more than 20 years, and has performed just about every type of job in the field. Law offered the following practical advice to Notaries and NSAs interested in pursuing field inspection to increase their service offerings.
What exactly do field inspectors do?
Field Inspectors are the eyes and ears of a company that needs something done. Inspections are broken down into three major categories: mortgage, insurance, and commercial inspections. At SOFI, we focus on the commercial segment because the fees are generally higher, as is the quality of the companies.
A typical inspection — a business verification, for example — generally pays around $35-$40 and takes 10-15 minutes. I recently did a business verification for a cardiovascular clinic needing to run background checks on potential employees. The background check company needed to verify that the clinic was a valid business, so they sent me to take photographs of the sign and address on the front of the building, talk to a manager, look at their business license, and take photographs of an empty exam room and the locked file cabinet in which they planned to store the background check information.
Are Notaries uniquely qualified to become field inspectors?
In many cases Notaries are self-employed or independent contractors, so they’re used to making decisions on how to run and organize their business. A lot of the planning, strategies and operations of the Notary are similar to how you would run a field service business. The more a Notary can perform in one area, for example, the more money they can make due to less travel time. The same principles apply to field inspections. Doing both Notary signings and field inspections gives you more security because you’re working with more companies. You’ll also make more money because you’re being more efficient, which is very important when you’re self-employed.
How does one get qualified to perform inspections, and how do they find work?
Most inspections require no previous qualifications. Background checks are becoming more of a requirement. Many companies offer brief training over the phone. For business verifications, the company usually provides you with a form and explains what they expect from you. Companies want you to do a good job, so they give you what you need to get it done.
For those looking to get started, you could find businesses through Google using keywords such as “business verification,” “freight inspection,” or “collateral inspection.” At SOFI, we’ve been working 22 years on a printed directory of companies nationwide that perform inspections. Most inspectors find 125-130 companies in the directory that service the area where they live, so that is a good place to start.
What does one need to become a field inspector?
As far as tools of the trade, most people already have them. You need a resume describing who you are, what you do, and listing the types of inspections you offer and the area you service. You need a high-speed Internet connection and a digital camera with a flash and a way to time and date stamp each photo. You’ll also need a reliable vehicle. Some insurance inspections may require a measuring/walking wheel, but don’t purchase anything until you actually know you need it.