Busy neophyte business turning away files

Welcome to Startup Story, a six-part series in which we will follow a new business through its startup and the trials and tribulations of a new venture over the course of a year. This is a collaborative venture between Venture Kamloops’ VK Accelerate Program and Kamloops This Week. This is the fourth instalment. The featured business has purchased an advertising package in Kamloops This Week as part of its participation.

A handyman makes repairs to the reception desk as Franca Muraca emerges from her office with her latest client.

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It’s bustling inside Muraca Notary public the morning of Sept. 2, with the receptionist, Rebecca, noting how fast the day is moving for her workload.

Reflecting on the last eight months in business with KTW, Muraca responds with a quick and concise “no” when asked if she thought she’d ever be turning away business when she became a notary.

While appointments have been steady, the business began turning away files — 10 in total — in August.

“We just couldn’t keep up,” Muraca said of her business, which has remained busy in its inaugural year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Muraca, the decision to turn away files was made to ensure the quality of the service over the quantity of business.

“I don’t want to keep taking files and files and files and not do a good job,” she said.

Muraca started the business nearly a year ago — a change in career from her past life as an educator.

Building the business from the ground up in the Victoria Landing building downtown, she started with about five files in January.

At the time, she did not know if there would be enough work to go around.

But by August, her office was handling 55 files per month, many from repeat customers.

“It had grown 10-fold in that time,” Muraca said.

Creating a bustling business isn’t something the middle-aged mother of two is striving to accomplish. Her goal has been to focus on customer service while maintaining a sustainable business that can co-exist with the other aspects of her life.

It’s apparent that, after eight months in, Muraca has found her Goldilocks zone.

“Fifty-five is what we did [in August], 65 would have been where we were at and growing, so it just got to the place where we had to say we can’t physically do any more,” Muraca said.

The business at this stage is profitable.

All staff are up to working full-time hours and Muraca has only taken a single day off since January.

“I took one whole Friday off and bombed down to Vancouver with my kids,” she said.

Muraca feels business will remain steady until winter, when the real estate market typically slows down.

Remaining busy has been an unexpected silver lining for the notary business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Life goes on,” Muraca said. “It’s altered, but people are still purchasing, people are still selling … I’ve gotten a lot [of business] lately of people moving into the new complex being built on Lorne Street.”

The office’s protocols for COVID-19 have also remained steady as customers are asked to wash their hands, practise physical distancing and wear a mask if they choose, though it must be removed for identification purposes.

Most files are dealt with by appointment and employees also have the option to work remotely from home.

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