Using the Estimating Tools in QuickBooks Contractor Edition
Estimating is one of the most important—and difficult—aspects of running a construction firm. Estimating is critical because bids that are too high may lose out to lower bids from your competitors, while bids that are too low can reduce your profits or even make you lose money on a job.
Estimating data is an important part of job cost analysis. Comparing estimated costs to actual costs is a key aspect of job costing. By comparing estimated costs to actual costs, you can see where you are estimating too high or too low and improve the accuracy of future estimates.
To create estimates in QuickBooks, follow these steps:
Here are some additional tips that can help make your estimating process even faster and easier:
Entering estimates into Contractor Edition
You may already own and prefer to use software other than QuickBooks to build your estimates. If so, you can continue to use those programs to create estimates. But to streamline QuickBooks reporting, invoicing, job costing, and other tasks, it is critical that you enter estimates, even just section summaries, into Contractor Edition.
Why? Estimating is the starting point for all workflows, including accounting, invoicing and job cost tracking features, built into Premier Contractor Edition. The estimate in QuickBooks is critical because it is the place that holds the original estimate and any changes to the estimate. By entering "summary" estimates into QuickBooks, you can take better advantage of the invoicing and job costing functionality in QuickBooks—without any additional data entry beyond what you're probably already doing today.
The summary estimates you enter in QuickBooks can be automatically converted into invoices with just a few mouse clicks. This is especially valuable for progress invoicing. The progress invoicing features in Contractor Edition allow you to send out periodic detailed invoices for work done to date and track what customers have already paid and what you still need to collect.
QuickBooks estimates are also required for creating the Job Estimates vs. Actuals Summary and Detail reports. The Job Estimates vs. Actuals Detail report is critical to the person who manages the project and to the estimator. Also, entering all of your estimates into Contractor Edition is a necessary part of job costing, as explained in the first edition of this newsletter.
Fortunately, you do not need to re-type all of the detailed estimate data into QuickBooks to take advantage of these features! Instead, just create a "summary" estimate in QuickBooks.
For most contractors, it is best to enter the summary estimate by "division," or major sections or pieces of a job. For example, a remodeling contractor may use divisions such as Plans & Permits, Sitework, Concrete, Framing, etc. The Contractor Sample file and starter file include a list of standard contracting divisions that are already built into an Item List. You can customize the List, adding or deleting divisions as needed.