Q. Does every job have to have an estimate?
No, but it's a good business practice. The estimate represents an agreement
between you and your client. It gives clients a summary of what will
be included on the job. An estimate helps you avoid forgotten tasks and
missed costs that could cut into your profits. With a written estimate,
there should be no surprises on the job for either you or your client.
Unless the job is one of those that's in-and-out of your shop in a day
or two and is routine and predictable, your shop could be at risk for
unbillable costs without signed job estimates.
Q. What's the best way to calculate an estimate?
When estimating a new job, review similar jobs that your agency has completed
to help determine how much the job will cost. Examine past jobs to determine
why a job went over estimate, and then prepare a better estimate for
the new job. Remember that good estimating can take time, but the financial
gains will be worth the effort.
Q. How do I create an estimate without opening
a job ticket?
You can't, you need to add a job ticket before creating an estimate. If an estimate is only a bid or proposal, then give the new job ticket a status code that reflects the nature of the estimate. A Clients & Profits Pro X or Job Tracker X user can create a proposal
without having to create a job ticket first If a proposal is accepted, it can be automatically converted to a new job ticket. If an estimate was sent to the client, but not accepted, then close the job and give it a status
code such as "Closed, Never Approved" or "Canceled, Never Started." You
then will have a record of the estimate in the database. If the client ever
changes their mind and decides to go ahead with the job, you won't have
to recreate the job from scratch. Just reopen the job ticket or open
a new job by cloning the existing job.
Q. When should the estimate be completed?
The estimate should be prepared and signed by the client before work
on the job begins. Of course, this may not always happen. An estimate
should be signed before you spend any money with vendors or before a
significant amount of your staff's time has been invested in a job. It
is a process of training your staff and training your clients. Make sure
that everyone involved understands your agency's workflow policy.
Q. How can I keep people from adding time
or costs to a job when the estimate has not been approved?
Use status codes. Set up a status code for jobs with unapproved estimates. The status code's alert should be set to either warn users or stop users when they try to add costs to the job. A message such as "See this job's AE before continuing" can be added as the status code's warning.
Q. Why can't Clients & Profits X calculate an estimate amount automatically from the job's planned time and expenses?
It can. Clients & Profits has a built-in estimate calculator, called the Estimate Worksheet. While editing an estimate amount, click on the Worksheet link. You are able to input estimated hours and outside costs. As you tab through the worksheet, the correct billing rate or markup appears, creating estimate amounts. When you save the worksheet, amounts are copied to the main Estimate window.
Q. What is budget amount used for?
It reflects the amount that you expect to spend in outside hard costs on a job.
It usually doesn't include the cost of your staff's time or in-house expenses, unless you manually
enter it. The budget amount is used on Purchase Order and Cost alerts
that compare actual to budgeted costs. It is also used on some Profitability
reports that show Projected Gross Margin.
Q. Is the job's initial budget related to
the job tasks' budget amounts?
No. The initial budget appears on the printed job ticket, which is usually
printed as soon as the job is opened. It is used as a reference point
for preparing the estimate. Both the initial budget and the tasks' budget
amounts are optional and used for internal use only (i.e., they don't
appear on the printed estimate).
Q. Why aren't some tasks that appear on
the job ticket included in the Estimate window?
Only job tasks that are marked as "Estimating/Billing" tasks can be estimated. A job task marked as only "Scheduling" is excluded from the Estimate window. The task's estimating/scheduling setting is copied from the Task Table, but it can be changed on a particular job task in the Edit Job Task window by checking the "Estimating/Billing" option.
Q. Can additional job tasks be added from
the Estimate window?
Yes. If a task isn't on the job, then add it by clicking on the "Add Task" tool bar button in Estimate window and follow the prompts. You don't have to return to the job ticket window to add a task.
Q. What is a group number?
The group number on a task controls how an estimate sub-totals and impact the order of how the tasks appear on the job ticket window, in the
Estimate window, and on the printed Estimate itself. The group code can
be edited by double-clicking on a job task in the job ticket window.
The group name can be edited in the Groups window (see Setup > Groups).
Q. How do I show sales tax on estimates?
Sales tax is calculated based on estimate amounts for each job task.
Each task has a sales tax setting, either taxable or non-taxable, for
up to two different sales taxes (or tax rates). Sales tax settings are
copied from the Task Table to the job ticket every time a new task is
added. A job task's sales tax settings can be edited. The sales tax rate
(percentage) is pulled from the client account. When the estimate is
printed, you'll see asterisks to the right of the amounts indicating
taxable job tasks.
Q. We usually give clients several options
to choose from when preparing the estimate; how can we show
You can print up to three separate columns on each estimate. Label the three columns in the estimate window accordingly (e.g., "5,000", "10,000", "25,000" or "2-color", "4-color", "6-color" etc.) then enter estimate amounts in each column. When you print the estimate, you have options to print one specific estimate column, all three estimates columns with one combined total amount, or all three estimate columns with individual column totals.
Q. Is there an easy way to copy the amounts
from one column to the next?
Yes. Click into the column you want to copy to the right, then click the "Copy Amount" toolbar
This function copies all of the amounts into the next column where
they can be edited. However, this function does not copy the information
entered into the Estimate Worksheet, but it will copy the hours as well as the amounts from one column to the next.
Q. We gave a client three different estimate
amounts to choose from, and they chose the third column's estimate.
How do we get this estimate to show up on the Job Ticket
window and Job Summary reports?
After a client makes their choice, open the Estimate window. Then use
the Final Estimate pop-up menu at the bottom of the window to select
the job's authorized estimate. This will show through to the job ticket window and on reports. This setting does not impact the printing of an estimate, which is controlled via the print estimate window.
Q. We go through several revisions on a
estimate before the client approves it. How can we keep track
of these different versions?
Clients & Profits can track the various revisions to a job's estimate. A job starts with an original estimate. When changes are made to an estimate that reflect a new revision, choose "New Revision" from the "Show Est Rev" pop-up menu. Each time the estimate is revised, you can save it as a "New Revision" if you wish to track the changes made. If not, just edit the original estimate and click Save.
Q. Do we give the estimate revision a number?
No. New revisions are automatically numbered.
Q. Can we review prior revisions of an estimate?
Yes. Prior revisions can be viewed at any time by selecting the revision number from the "Show Est Rev" pop-up menu. This estimate will be seen in a "view only" format. To edit a prior revision, it must be made the current estimate as well by clicking the toolbar button to the right of the pop-up menu which prompts if you want to make the selected estimate the current estimate.
Q. What happens if a client chooses to
go with a previous revision of the estimate?
You have an option to replace the current estimate with a prior revision. Doing this will make the previous revision the current estimate. Choose the prior revision from the "Show Est Rev" pop-up menu. Now, the estimate window shows the estimate amounts you want. Select the "Make Current" button (to the right of the "Show Est Rev" menu) to make the previous estimate the current estimate. The current estimate is the only one that can be edited, is shown in the job ticket window, and on all reports that show estimate amounts.
Q. Can we only make any revision the current estimate?
Yes, including the original estimate. You may choose a prior revision, the original estimate, or a future revision (if you made a prior revision the current estimate) at any time.
Q. Is there an easy way to erase the
estimate and start over?
Yes. In the Estimate window, select the "Clear" toolbar button, which will clear the estimate and budget amounts.
Q. We have several jobs we need to create that have almost identical
estimates. Is there a quick way to prepare them?
Yes, use the cloning feature to add the jobs. Add the first job and
set up the estimate. When you add each of the similar jobs, choose "Clone" from the toolbar. Make the necessary changes to the specifications
of the new job and select the option to also clone "Estimates, worksheets, budgets." As well, estimate amounts can be added to the job template of a Job Type/Spec Sheet. Add each of the jobs using the same Job Type/Spec Sheet.
Q. We have several jobs for one project.
Can we print all the individual estimates as a single document?
Yes. A project estimate includes a sub-total for each job in the project, and a grand total for the project. When you print the estimate, choose "Project" instead of "Job Number" from the pop-up menu and enter the Project name.
Q. We want our creatives to be able to
look up Job Tickets and review estimates, but not make
any changes. How can we be sure they don't edit the estimates?
Ensure that their access privileges for jobs are set up correctly.
The "Can edit estimates" checkbox in the Jobs access area should
not be selected.
Q. What should we do when a client makes
a change after signing off on the job's estimate?
You can revise the estimate and print out a new copy of the estimate
for the client to sign -- or, better yet, add a change order
add a change order each time the client makes a substantial change,
even if it doesn't cost anything. The change order only shows what
the client wants changed, not the job's original estimate. It includes
signature lines to document the client's approval of the change.