Estimates: Bidding on the future

Estimates are what you tell a customer you think you will charge for your work. You’ve probably received estimates yourself from service providers, like a plumber or the guy who fixes your computer.

In other words, estimates can be your first step in getting paid. And getting paid is good.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you create estimates in QuickBooks.

Creating an estimate

Two things you should know:

  • The ability to create estimates isn’t turned on by default in QuickBooks. If you don’t see Create Estimate on the Home Page or on the Customer menu, choose Preferences > Sales and Invoicing and select the Estimates checkbox.
  • Once estimates are turned on, you can create estimates (and all other things having to do with customers) from the Customer Center or from the Customer menu.

Customizing an estimate for bids, proposals, and quotes

What if you prepare bids, proposals, or quotes in your business, but the estimate form in QuickBooks isn’t exactly how you like it? No problem. You can customize the form so that it suits your needs. For example, you can change the form’s title from “Estimate” to “Bid,” “Proposal,” or anything else that makes sense for your business.

To customize an estimate, click Customize on the Create Estimates window and use Layout Designer to make changes to the form.

Screen shot 2009-12-09 at 4.27.32 PM

Here’s a full list of things you can do to customize estimates:

  • Delete columns and fields you don’t use.
  • Change the name of a column or field. For example, if your business sells merchandise, you could change the title of the Rate column from “Rate” to “Price.”
  • Change the width of columns on the form. For example, if your line items have long descriptions, you could widen the Description column.
  • Change the order in which columns appear on the form.
  • Change the title that QuickBooks prints on the form. For example, you could change the title of the estimate to “Bid” or “Proposal.”
  • Change the typeface, style, size, or color of the font used in various parts of the form.
  • Add artwork such as your logo.
  • Add your own customized fields to the form. To add customized fields, you must first set them up. For details, see customized fields for names or customized fields for items.

If your estimate lands you that project—or should we say when—you’re one step closer to getting paid. When you go to invoice the project, QuickBooks presents you with open estimates for that customer. Choose one and the invoice is prefilled with the items from the estimate. Make any adjustments you need and send it off, and then wait for the money to come in. Yep, getting paid is good.

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About Shelly King

Shelly King works for Intuit as a member of the QuickBooks for Mac team. She’s the Managing Editor for Little Square and its main contributor. Shelly grew up in the South until 1994 when the Internet called her to Silicon Valley. She’s done a lot on the web ever since. Little Square was her idea. Yep, it’s all her fault. See all of Shelly's articles

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