Beverly Carter is a Notary Public in Victoria, B.C at 2950 Douglas street, unit 240. Her office helps people with life’s notable moments—whether it’s finalizing a will, notarizing documents, or helping with real estate paperwork, Beverly Carter Notary Public ensures their clients are taken care of. We sat down with owner and notary Beverly Carter to learn more about how her career started and about what is important to her in her business.
What is Beverly Carter Notary Public and what is your mission?
“Well I’m Beverly Carter Notary Public, so I am the name and the face of the business. As a notary in British Columbia we offer services in the areas of real estate, so if you’re buying or selling a house, we can deal with that. Or if you’re getting a mortgage, we can do all the legal work for that. We have a lot of people coming to us for wills, powers of attorneys, and health representation agreements as well, so that’s a really important, intimate part of the business when we’re talking with people about all of their future needs.”
Of course, as the name says, being a notary is a large part of the business as well.
“Then we have notarizations which are a whole host of people’s business needs from all across the world. We help people from India, China, Romania, all over Europe, all over the United States, so it’s a specialty in and of itself. Because we’re dealing with people’s paperwork, and often they’re just told that they need to see a notary, we help them work through that process. It’s an important point of building trust with our people when they come through the door and helping them to have a positive experience. So that is what Beverly Carter Notary Public is about—and it’s not just about me, I have an entire team that helps this all to happen.”
Are there any special services or aspects of the business that you’d like to highlight?
“Well, being a notary is not really simple or straightforward. We’re dealing with people who are experiencing all kinds of stages and ages of life, so we never really know what a person is working through in their own personal life when they walk through the door. A lot of our interest is to make people as comfortable as possible. Generally, notaries are known as quite a grassroots legal approach—we make a very specific effort to make legal services accessible and comfortable.”
A big aspect of making these legal services accessible is offering virtual services, Beverly explains.
“We also offer virtual services. BC’s not yet able to offer virtual services for notarizations, but we can in the areas of wills and powers of attorney, and health representation agreements, and advance directives. So in that sense, we can offer those services all across British Columbia.
In office, being efficient in how they intake their clients is a highlight of the Beverly Carter business as well.
“We have a great system for intaking people, whether it’s in the personal planning area, like the wills and powers of attorney. But we also have a great intake on our real estate side. We try to think about what people need to know before they come to us. These are often experiences that people don’t go through everyday, so we really make an effort to think about what they need to know before they even know that they need to know it. We communicate as soon as we have first contact with them, and we’re trying to provide them information so we don’t wait until the last minute. It’s an industry standard to do everything at the last minute, but I’ve always taken the approach to not do that, and that really stems from my own experiences of waiting around, not knowing what was happening, such as if I was buying a house. I just don’t want that for my clients—I want them to be respected in whatever process that they’re doing with us. I really think it’s an important part. It’s beyond service, it’s really about a value that I have—that people are treated with respect and dignity no matter what it is that they’re dealing with.”
As well, although it may be a bit more informal, the office dogs at Beverly Carter Notary Public are a huge aspect of how they do business as well.
“We’re all about the office dogs here. We have different staff members that bring in their dogs from time to time, and it’s amazing because it really makes an impact on most clients. There’s the odd person who doesn’t have a good experience or they’re scared, so we’re very sensitive to that. We get the pets out of the way. But by and large, people just love seeing the dogs. They’re often sprawled out, right across the front door. And people almost have to step over them. So it’s the greeting committee that we have. But they do help bring a level of being real—we are people. Yes I’m a notary, but I’m a person, and I enjoy the interactions with people, and I enjoy when they can have some fun with the animals too.”
Overall, Beverly explains that a lot of the business is about asking the right questions to help people achieve success in whatever paperwork they arrive with. They always want to make the legal processes feel less stressful for clients wherever they can, Beverly says.
“One of the other points is that people are dealing with paperwork, and this is not what they deal with everyday. Paperwork can be stressful and can frustrate people because they’re dealing with all different other processes that often don’t make sense, and I would agree. A lot of government processes don’t make sense. But you need to learn how to get the boxes ticked to get it useful for the way you need it to be used. We know that, and that’s a lot of what we do—asking the right questions to our clients to make sure that they understand what they need to know. I can’t possibly know tens of thousands of different processes from all the countries across the world, but I do know the right questions to ask people. And that makes a huge difference. All of my team are trained in the same questioning style, because people don’t always know what they don’t know. And they’re trying to communicate to us what they think they need. Our job is to try and understand them, because we know they don’t always know what they’re asking for. And so that helps to set us up for success with all our clients. That’s really important to me, because again, people are dealing with a lot. We see a lot of estate documents, so people may be grieving. They’re dealing with court processes, they’re dealing with other people who aren’t always helpful. So we just don’t want to add stress to that process. Beyond positive, we just want it to be successful, and we want people to leave feeling like they’ve been respected. Often we’ll have a laugh or two—or three. But we really love what we do here and it’s really the people we see here everyday that make it worthwhile.”
How did Beverly Carter Notary Public begin?
“I thought about becoming a notary many years ago. I was born and raised in British Columbia in the Okanagan Valley, and when I moved back there with my kids who were very young I needed to do something different. I was trained as a teacher in Ontario and getting a teaching job in BC was next to impossible. So I bought a cafe and started out doing that, and I’ve always been fairly self-directed. But my sister-in-law, in their family they had a notary and I had a good, long chat with him. And he had told me at the time—and this was 20 odd years ago—that they were planning to change the notary program. So it used to be where there was a geographic seal, sort of like a sales territory. And that really didn’t appeal to me if I wanted to live in Victoria because I couldn’t get a seal in this area. When you’re raising a young family you want that sense of stability, and I’ve always loved Victoria when I used to come as a kid. So they changed the program—they implemented a Masters degree program at Simon Fraser University, and they took away those restrictions and that opened it right up. So basically I can practice anywhere in the province. Even though my office is physically located in Victoria, I can do real estate all over BC. So, that’s sort of how I started. I enjoy the challenge, and I’ve enjoyed the ability to set up a business and work with the people that I want to work with in the way that I want to work.”
“We are celebrating our 10th anniversary this year. It’s been about a 15-year journey to get to this point. So there’s a lot to celebrate—it’s very exciting.”
Does your business do any charity or community initiatives?
“I tend not to take a traditional approach to charity or activism. That’s kind of who I am, I’m not always traditional in some ways. Of course we do pro-bono services so that people can have access to legal services, and we’re very good at identifying that in the office.”
Supporting other local businesses is another way Beverly Carter Notary Public takes initiative in supporting the community.
“I’ve always had such a strong sense of community; I grew up with that. There’s a lot of small businesses that add so much to the cultures of our communities, so I do support small businesses. When I’m sending out an email newsletter to all my clients, I offer a spotlight on another local small business. What I do is I will purchase the services or the product from that business, I’ll do a write-up on them, and then I do the item as a giveaway so the clients can participate. I try to make it substantial, and I really don’t ask for anything back. Some of the businesses I’ve used myself, some are new, and some were struggling during the pandemic so I wanted to do what I could do to help them to stay afloat. These businesses are the fabric of our society—these are the people that support teams, they support other people and groups in the community. And they are people who are approachable. So I do what I can. So that’s a calling for me, to support other businesses.
As well, supporting female entrepreneurs is a passion for Beverly.
“There’s a couple right now that I mentor on the side and quietly, but they don’t often have anyone else to turn to. And it doesn’t matter what business we do, we all have HR, we all have accounting, we all need to promote our business. And these are intelligent women, but we all need somebody as a sounding board to just run ideas past who gets it. And so that to me is a passion as well.”
How do you think Beverly Carter Notary Public positively impacts the community as a whole?
“Our approach overall—our friendliness, our professionalism, and our efficiency—earn the trust of people to feel like they can handle their most intimate documents with us. And I don’t think you can underestimate how many people just don’t know where to turn to get something done, because they may have had experiences where they felt quite intimidated. As have I. And that’s the last thing I want for my people when they come in—I want them to feel the trust, and I want them to feel comfortable, because we’re talking about their major life events…although I don’t know exactly what they’re experience is, I certainly can relate to those hard experiences and make it easier to talk through. And that’s really important to people—because we’re all just cream puffs on the inside.”
“My tagline is that we’re there for life’s notable moments, whether people are having a new baby, or getting married, or selling a family home. These are all life’s notable moments. And grieving or losing a loved one is also a very notable moment. So we play a very important role. It’s not just the legal work we do, but it’s the recognition that we’re dealing with people who need some extra care.”
Do you have any standout stories or favourite memories from your time as a business owner?
“There’s so many. There’s just so many different people, experiences, and relationships that have evolved over the years. I do remember this one person that was over 100-years-old that after seeing me for the first time kept coming in just letting me know that he was still around. I was really quite inspired by this person and what it is that kept him going—so this person was just quite fun in that way. But we’ve had all kinds of different people and they’ve got their unique personalities, and they keep coming in, and we keep loving them.”
“I think the other things that are memorable is just that I’ve had some wonderful people as part of my time that have been there since fairly early on and have helped me grow. It’s been really rewarding to see Vicky Helmink, who started with me over 7 years ago, choose to become a notary and work through the program. That is not a small feat to get through the Masters and all the statutory exams and continue to work. So I find influencing or helping people to grow very valuable. I currently have a team of young women and I have a mission to help them all have their own house. I just want them all to succeed and to find skills that they can use for the rest of their life. I don’t expect everybody to be with me forever, but I do want to be a positive influence as they carry on in their life journey, wherever that takes them. So I think that’s probably most rewarding.”
What is important to you and the team in the workplace culture here?
“There are three things that are most important to me—integrity, being one. It’s the nature of the work that I do. Those people that I surround myself with, those people I work with. Balance is another one—work hard, play hard. And then that leads to the last one: fun. Our days can get quite demanding with back to back appointments or calls coming in or people popping in, so somewhere in the chaos you just have to step back and chill for a moment. The world isn’t falling apart, we just need to work through it all. But you can’t underestimate the amount of work that we do and our attention to detail, so backing off in our off time or even just throughout the day is important.”
What do you think makes Beverly Carter Notary Public unique and what sets it apart from the competition?
“We talk about this everyday. I remind my team that what makes us different is the way in which we care. It’s not just talking about it, it’s actually implementing it into our processes—we think about what the client needs before they know they need to know it. In some cases, they’ve had such a seamless process, they don’t even know what we’ve done, but they know they’ve had a very satisfying experience. And so that is absolutely big. So whether it’s a client walking through the front door, or making a phone call, or when our clients are looking at us on the website, we think about what the clients say and how they ask certain questions. What are the ten different ways they’ll ask the same thing, and how can we answer that in a way that they understand? We want them to have a positive experience.”
Is there any special ingredient to keeping your business successful?
“I think vision—keeping to vision and values but remaining flexible and adaptable. In small businesses, you never know. We’re currently in a changed market for real estate, so we need to adapt. We can’t adapt six months later, we need to be very aware and present. But the vision of a good place to be—for me, my dogs, my staff, and then the values of integrity.”
If someone had never heard of your business what is one thing you wish you could tell them?
“We are really offering a grassroots service. We are people, we recognize that what you’re coming in for isn’t always easy and often involves some stress. And we really try to alleviate that and be very human and real and make it an overall very positive experience. We named our meeting rooms ‘welcome’ and ‘thank you’ and I think that really says it all. I mean, if I had to sum it up—we thought to that level of detail. Because everything we do here is about our clients or potential clients. And we have a place in the community, and I value that place. So we just want to welcome everyone and say thank you to them for choosing us.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
“I think in terms of being a small business with a very local footprint, it’s really important to remind people to make those choices about other local businesses. These are people who are your neighbors, they’re your friends, they might be your family. And if they’re not that, then they employ those people. And small businesses can offer a lot of community involvement. And so I think really, please support our local businesses.”