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How to Add, Edit, and Manage Estimates for Jobs

An estimate is used describe a job and calculate its approximate cost to a customer.  However, in Total Office Manager the functionality of an estimate goes well beyond that brief description.

  • A pick ticket can be generated from the estimate, then sent to the warehouse for the necessary parts to be gathered.
  • If changes are made to the estimate, a change order is automatically generated and can be added to the estimate’s details (notes) with a single click.
  • Work orders can be created from the estimate. This makes the process much faster and more accurate.
  • Either an invoice for the full amount, or progress invoices for a percentage of the original amount can be created from an estimate.
  • Sales receipts for immediately paid work, plus credit memos, work orders, and purchase orders can all be created from the original estimate as well, preserving the entire “flow” of efforts involved in the job.
  • All estimating activity can be seen in one place, such as the History form.

Accessing the Estimate Form

  • From the main menu, click Customers | Create Estimate.
  • From the keyboard, use the shortcut Ctrl+E.

Estimate Field and Button Definitions

For the most part, the field and button definitions in the new estimate form are identical to any other sales form.  Only the definitions which are unique to the Estimate form are described here. Please see the related topic, “Sales Forms” for descriptions of the common controls founds across all sales forms (invoices, credit memos, etc.).

Note:  Some commands, labels, and fields may not be available until after the form is saved for the first time. They will also depend on what preferences have been set.

Basic Information Area

The Basic Information Area appears at the top of the form.

  • Date – The date the record was first created. Total Office Manager fills this in with the current date, but you can change it.
  • To Be Printed – Ticking this checkbox indicates that the invoice will be printed later as part of a batch print job along with other sales forms.
  • Estimate # – This refers to the number assigned to that record.  These numbers are sequential (1200, 1201, 1202, etc.) and are automatically generated as new records are created. There are preferences that control numbering. Note: this field can be overridden by any alpha-numeric string of data you wish to enter, on a form-by-form basis.  For more information on number formatting see the related topic “Preferences – Company”.
  • Internal Memo – Enter a note to Total Office Manager users or yourself if you wish. This information will NOT show up on the invoice or other customer forms.

Estimate Header

The Estimate header is located at the top left of the estimate form. It is used to enter the following data:

  • Customer:Job – The Name of the Customer or Job the record pertains to.
  • Stage – This is a user defined custom list that can be used for any purpose.
  • Estimate Status – Select “None”, “Pending”, “Awarded”, “In Progress”, “Closed”, or “Not Awarded” as applicable. This is not mandatory.  Job Status selections are “hard coded” in the program and are not editable.
  • Terms – Displays any pre-existing terms extended to the customer in their customer record.  This can be overridden if necessary.
  • PO – Purchase Order number (if used). You can select an existing PO, if one has already been created. POs for this customer will appear on the selection list.
  • Department – Select the department that you wish to associate with this estimate. If you select a department here, all items will have that department associated with them. You can still select a different one for any item in the list. If you edit a sale, you can select a department and that department will automatically be selected for all items that do NOT already have a department selected. Note: Departments are setup in the Department List.
  • Service Agreement – Service Agreement number (if used). You can select an existing SA, if one has already been created. SAs for this customer will appear on the selection list.
  • Tax Code – Sales tax codes are used to identify or classify what type of sales tax you collect for a given item. Sales tax codes are not the same as Sales Tax Items or Sales Tax Groups. Examples of sales tax codes may include Taxable Labor Sales, Taxable Material Sales, Non-Taxable Labor Sales, and Non-Taxable Material Sales. These codes would allow you to print a more detailed and more organized Sales Tax Liability report. With Sales Tax Codes You can track why your sales were either taxable or non-taxable, identify what type of sales tax you collect, add codes to cover the different reasons you charge sales tax, and tell Total Office Manager if the invoice should be taxed or not taxed.
  • Tax Item – When you set up sales tax items, Total Office Manager keeps track of what you owe, when it’s due, and who to pay. You have the ability to group sales tax items together (called Sales Tax Item Groups) so that you only need to select one tax to track multiple tax authorities.
  • Work Order – Work Order number (if used). You can select an existing WO, if one has already been created. WOs for this customer will appear on the selection list.
  • Ship Date – The date the order was shipped to the customer.
  • Ship Via – The method used to ship the items that were purchased. Contractors will not need this field in many cases, but you can also use it to identify other things about the estimate.
  • Sales Rep – Used to associate a representative, salesperson, vendor, or other employee with the estimate.  Thus, reports which show sales per sales rep can be produced.  Vendors can be excluded from the drop-down list by adjusting system preferences (see related topic, “Preferences – Sales/Invoices/Estimates” for more information).
  • Marketing Source – Select the option that best describes what caused this estimate to happen. An example may be a coupon or newspaper ad. Unlike many other programs, Total Office Manager allows you to make a note of what produces each estimate, not just how you got the customer. In other words, the customer might have originally contacted your company due to a yellow pages ad, but a coupon you sent them prompted them to actually call and order service. Your selection comes from a list that you must setup.
  • FOB – An abbreviation for “Free On Board”. The term is commonly used when shipping goods, to indicate who pays loading and transportation costs, and/or the point at which the responsibility and ownership of the goods transfers from shipper to buyer.  In North America, the term is used in two common phrases, “FOB shipping point” (origin) and “FOB destination,” to distinguish when the title of goods passes from the seller to the buyer. Under the terms of “FOB shipping point,” the title of the goods passes to the buyer at the shipping point. Similarly, under the terms of “FOB destination”, the title of the goods passes to the buyer when the goods arrive at their destination. The distinction is important because it determines who pays for the shipping costs of the merchandise: whoever holds the title to the merchandise at the time of its shipping pays for its transportation costs unless otherwise noted (e.g., freight prepaid or freight collect). Also, it is important that if the shipment is damaged while traveling the owner must file the freight claim. ~ Source:
  • Line Item Dates – This option adds the ability to enter a date for each line item. This may be helpful when you wish to show when a certain product or service will be installed.
  • Cust. Message – Use the Cust. Message field either to select a pre-defined customer message (that you already created) or to enter a short original message for the customer to see on their estimate forms.  An example may include “Thank you very much. Your installation is complete”.  Important Note: This feature works a little differently than many other similar features.  You may enter anything that you wish into the Customer Message field without saving that message anywhere accept in this field.  In other words, if you enter text into the field, it will be saved with the invoice but NOT saved to the Customer Message list.  The Customer Message List is where reusable messages are created and managed.  See the related topic, “Customer Message List” for more info.
  • Projected Total – Allows you to enter the amount the job will sell for. You may then see the difference between this number and the actual total. This might make it easier for you to adjust the individual amounts to make the Projected Total.

Bill To Address Area

The Bill To Address Area is used to enter the following transaction data:

  • Bill To Address – Displays the Bill To address (as entered in the Customer:Job form).  It may be overridden as necessary.  Note: There is a button you can use this to select what will appear in the “Attention” area of the printed estimate.

Work Address Area

The Work Address Area is used to enter the following transaction data:

  • Work Address – Displays the Bill To address (as entered in cust:job form).  It may be overridden as necessary.  Note: There is a button you can use this to select what will appear in the “Attention” area of the printed estimate.

Transaction Summary Area

The Transaction Summary Area of an estimate displays information about the transaction like total, discounts, taxes, payments, account balance, and more as follows:

  • Discount – Displays the sum of any discount items appearing on the invoice.
  • Payment – Displays the total of any payment items appearing on this invoice.
  • Sub-Total – Displays the total of the estimate before sales tax (if any).
  • Retail Price Tax – Displays any retail price tax applied to the invoice, if applicable.
  • Direct Cost Tax – Displays any direct cost tax applied to the invoice, if applicable.
  • Gross Profit Tax – Displays any gross profit tax applied to the invoice, if applicable.
  • Use Tax – Displays any use tax applied to the invoice, if applicable.
  • Tax Total – Displays the sales tax applied to this invoice (if any).
  • Total – Displays the total of the entire estimate.
  • Account Balance – Displays the balance or the amount of accounts receivable for this customer:job (the amount owed to you).
  • Contract Total – The total amount of the estimate before any retainage is subtracted. Check this field (in the header) to make sure the amount is the correct total agreed to price for this estimate. This is used when you have a Retainage Item on the estimate. This is common for AIA billing.

Estimate Item Area (aka: item grid)

The Invoice Item Area is the listing of invoice items, sometimes referred to as “line items”, being included in the transaction.  These invoice items can include inventory or serialized items being sold, payment items being received, discount items being applied, sub-totals, and more. These columns can be arranged by each user, so this list is not necessarily in order.

  • Item – The Name/Number of the selected Invoice Item.
  • Qty. – The total number of that item that was sold.
  • Warehouse – The location where the item was sold from. Total Office Manager allows you to setup multiple locations for inventory such as a main warehouse, service truck, etc. You need to tell Total Office Manager where the item was sold from. For example, if an item is sold from truck 102, you would select this location when creating the estimate. Of course, you will need to setup up a “warehouse” called “Truck 102”.
  • Price Ea – The retail price (price you charge the customer) for the item.
  • Amount – Retail price multiplied by the quantity (number sold).
  • Tax Item – Total Office Manager is unique in that it allows you to select a sales tax item (rate) on a line-item level. If you have items with different tax rates or unique tax rules, you may select them here.
  • Tax Code – You can select a tax code for each item.
  • Description – The description of the item sold. You can change this description. The change will NOT affect the description of the actual item – just on the invoice.
  • Serial Number – The serial number of the item or items sold. If you have selected a serialized item to sell, you will see a button on the left side of the line labeled, for example, 1 of 2. You will need to select the correct serial number for the item(s).
  • Dept. – Select the department that you wish to associate with this item. Note: Department are setup in the Department List.
  • Date – This field allows you to select a date that is important to this line-item. Many companies use this for the installation or delivery date for that item (if different than the date on the form). Example: The date you delivered or installed an evaporator coil, roll of BX cable, or water heater.
  • Lease/Rental – This includes a list of Company Assets that you may offer for lease or have loaned out. Please Note: Only assets with the “Available for Lease or Rental” box checked will be included in this list. You can learn more about Company Assets here.
  • Notes – Shows the contents of the “Notes” field of the invoice item. These notes cannot be edited on this form.
  • Stage – Stages are created by your company. They can represent many different things. This form and many others include this feature.
  • WO – WO stands for Work Order. You may select a work order to associate this item with. You may find this helpful for billing purposes.

Form Button and Menu Definitions

  • Attention Select – This button is actually a small arrow at the top of the Bill To and Work Address area; just to the right of the “Attn:” field. You can use this to select what will appear in the “Attention” area of the estimate.
  • Save & Close – Saves the information and closes the form.
  • Save & New – Saves the information on the form and clears it so that you can start a new one.
  • Menu | Create | Invoice – Opens the “Create Progress Invoice Based On Estimate” window, which is used to invoice for the entire amount of the estimate or a certain percentage.  See the related topic, “Create Invoice From Estimate” for more details.
  • Menu | Create | Sale – Opens a New Sale form used to record the transaction when the customer pays for the work in full at the time when the work is performed.
  • Menu | Create | Purchase Order – Opens the New PO form, used for authorizing personnel to make company purchases.
  • Print/Email – Saves the information on the form and opens the print dialog form. There you can print or even email the estimate form as a PDF file. The estimate is converted to a PDF and attached to an email that you may then modify and send. Of course, you need to have email already setup on your computer (like Outlook or Outlook Express). This email feature will not work with any web-based email service.
  • Details – You may enter details about the estimate. This is particular useful for service company who wish to describe the repair or install in detail.
  • Menu | Assign Hours – Open a grid that allows you to select any active employee on file and enter their time associated with this estimate or job. Time is entered in minutes. This information allows Total Office Manager to produce reports that can judge an employee’s efficiency and other notes of interest.
  • Menu | Assign Work Orders – Opens a listing of the customer’s work orders which can then be assigned to the estimate.  Simply tick the checkbox of each work order to assign.  The list is automatically displayed with the most recent work orders sorted first.  The columns can then be sorted as necessary, by clicking the header of the column by which to sort.  Click the header a second time to reverse the sort order.  This is helpful to locate work orders which have not yet been invoiced, for example.
  • Revert – Reverses your changes BEFORE they are saved. Bring back changes you may have made but have not saved.
  • Show Signature – Displays signatures captured using the “Signature Capture” feature of Aptora Mobile.
  • Form Preferences – This option opens a form that allows you to add or remove fields and columns. When you remove fields and columns, the form may open and save quicker. Removing elements that you do not need may also make the form appear easier to understand and use. Important Note: If you remove certain columns or fields that already contains information, that information will be removed from the form. This is done to make the form faster. The form no longer needs to store and retrieve that information. There are some exceptions for accounting related fields that are absolutely required. These include Income, Cost of Goods Sold, and Assets account selections.

Extended Information About Estimates

  • The Estimate (AKA Proposal) feature in Total Office Manager does not include information that will help predict the profitability of a job.  This was not our intention.  If you are interested in knowing whether or not the job you are proposing is profitable, this feature will not give you a definitive answer.
  • The Estimate is simply a document.  You can think of it as a sales proposal you may fill out by hand. However, in Total Office Manager it is automated and may be converted to a sale.
  • If you are utilizing Total Office Manager’s powerful inventory features, the Estimate will be able to give you an idea of gross profit (sale price less the cost of direct expenses) but certainly not net profit (sale price less direct expenses and overhead).
  • Remember, in order for you to be able to see meaningful information about your direct expenses (the price you pay for labor, materials, parts, sub-contractors, and other direct expenses), you must be using Total Office Manager’s inventory features properly.  That means you must setup inventory items, receive items into inventory, enter bills, and pay bills.  If you skip any of these processes, you will not have meaningful profit information.
  • Will this job be profitable?  The best way to approach this question is to perform a detailed breakeven analysis of labor and MESO (materials, parts, sub-contractors, and other direct expenses).  A breakeven analysis allows you to calculate the price that you must charge in order to breakeven.  That is to say; cover all direct expenses and cover all overhead.  You would then add money for net profit.  Once this is done, you will know how much it costs to provide an hour of labor and sell, for example, a furnace.
  • Once you know the price that is required to breakeven, you would add an appropriate amount for net profit.  Total Office Manager includes a number of ways to markup labor and MESO.  These methods may be found under the Company menu.

In Summary

Use the Estimate feature to create a comprehensive list of parts, materials, equipment, sub-contractors, and labor related duties for the job.  If these items have been marked up properly and the job is performed as predicted, you will have the profit you projected.

Tips on Estimates and Estimating Jobs

  • Invoices can be created from estimates with a few clicks of the mouse.  Example: You offer a customer an estimate to replace their furnace. They accept.  Return to the estimate to create the invoice.
  • An invoice created from an estimate can be edited and changed independently of the estimate.
  • Estimates can be changed at any time to reflect changes in the actual work being performed.  ie: if a “Change Order” is written up for a job, return to the estimate and change it accordingly.  The program will automatically generate an internal change order which can be added to the estimate’s details (notes) with a single click, keeping everything updated.  See the related topic, “Change Order” for details.
  • Estimates are used for auditing/paper trail purposes and do not actually affect any COA accounts.  It is not until an invoice or sale is created that COA accounts are affected (ie: A/R, Inventory, etc).

Help Topics Related to Estimates and Estimating

Best Practices for Using Estimates in Contracting

Progressive Billing – Create an Invoice From Estimate

Managing Change Orders to Jobs