Google Docs is good for more than just meeting notes or technical writing. If you’re looking for a free and easy way to make customizable estimates, Google Docs is a solid option available to anyone with a Google account.
Estimates are a business’s way of showing a client their best guess of how much a good or service will cost before work begins. This is part of the negotiation stage between the client and vendor, and allows the client to ask questions and evaluate their budget based off of the information that the vendor provides.
Estimates will set the tone of your negotiation with your client, and there are a number of things to keep in mind when putting together your estimate.
For example, consider the following: What is the scope of the job? What kind of hours will be required to fulfill this request, and what kind of materials? Is the client’s request in line with how the service usually goes? Would providing them with multiple options help?
If there is any missing information at this point in the stage that the estimate relies upon, don’t complete the estimate just yet. Continue talking with the client until all crucial information is received. For example, if the number of hours they want you to operate plus the scope of the project is already established, you may not need to get all the details of exactly when you’ll arrive that day to create the estimate - those are often details that can be determined later.
If you don’t already, consider accounting for overhead costs. Note that you should not disclose that you’re including any overhead costs, or what those costs include. Simply lump it in with part of your calculation. Overhead costs are monthly costs that do not change. These include the business’s rent, salaries, insurance, and utilities.
Lastly, even though you might calculate the precise amount of a material you’ll be using and a cost, you don’t need to list all materials separately. Where applicable, keep it simple, and have “materials” as a lump sum.
Overall, the biggest advice when it comes to an estimate is that even though a lot of thought and time can go into making one, you want the end result to read cleanly and clearly to the client - you don’t want to overwhelm them with too much detail. In short: keep it simple.
Before we begin, make sure you have access to the following:
Step 1: Open Google Docs
Step 2: Select Template Gallery to show all options
Step 3: Fill out the relevant information
And voilà! Your estimate should now look something like this:
Step 5: Download
All that’s left is to download it! When it comes to file types, PDFs are standard for estimates.
Here are some extra steps to personalize your estimate and make it look more professional.
Step 1: Select a top right cell (such as F5)
Step 2: Insert > Image > Image location
Step 3: Resize and place in the top right corner. It’s a good idea to have your logo on each page.
To prevent your logo from interfering with the text and reformatting your estimate, be sure to have the image either “in front” or “behind” the text.
Here’s what our estimate looks like with the logo added.
Unfortunately, this Google Docs template does not have a theme attached, and thus has no easy way to change the color pallet. The triangular shape along the top is an inserted image, so the main options are keeping the color pallet as is (even if it clashes with your business logo), or removing the image entirely. However, the default blue and beige are safe color choices when it comes to business matters, as they’re easy to read and have no negative connotations with money.
If you’re interested in having a standard, personalized copy, it’s a good idea to save a standard version to save yourself time in the future.
Step 1: File > Make a copy
Step 2: Rename it, so it’s easily identifiable as a template
Step 3: Select the file location
Step 3: For future estimates, make copies of this template
It’s a good idea to give each estimate its own number, so that both you and the client can refer to them easily later. Like invoice numbers, estimate numbers are an easy shorthand to assign to estimates, and are especially handy when you’re offering discussing multiple estimates and possibilities.
Always make sure this is up-to-date before you send it! If you work on an estimate over several days, make sure your prepared date accurately reflects the date you send it to your client.
Expiration dates on estimates are standard. These help to encourage a client to make a decision, and prevents wasting time. It also ensures that they're aren’t held as binding, in case of any price changes in the future. The standard date for estimate expirations are 30 days after they’re issued.
If you’d like, you can expedite the negotiation process by providing the client with the contract alongside the estimate, either as an extra page added to the estimate itself, or as a separate document. However, for ease of use, including it with the estimate is best.
Contracts should clearly but succinctly define any terms and conditions. These can include: how you accept payment; whether payment is expected before or after the service or goods are delivered; and what happens if payment is not sent on time, such as late charges or interest.
Pretty straightforward, right? Thanks to Google Docs’ template, you can put together your own estimates.
However, if you’re looking for an even easier option to make estimates and invoice clients with more personalization options, you can make estimates for free on invoicer.ai, with extra services such as payment reminders and tracking, real-time updates, notifications, and more!