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How to create an estimate in QuickBooks Online: The better way

Mechanic uses QuickBooks Online on her tablet at work.

Creating and keeping track of estimates are an important part of building profits for your business. 

Once you’re finished setting up QuickBooks Online for an existing company, or a new one, you’ll want to begin managing estimates ASAP.

So, let’s get to know the basics of how to create an estimate in QuickBooks Online (QBO). 

Later in this blog, you’ll learn how to upgrade your estimates in QBO with the best QuickBooks Online CRM: Method. 

What’s an estimate and its purpose?

An estimate is a document that shows your prospective customers a list of products and services and how much they cost.

It’s important to note that an estimate is not a sales order. Potential customers haven’t committed to buying anything yet. 

In QBO, estimates offer a breakdown of costs so your customer can understand exactly how they spend their money.

The importance of QuickBooks Online estimates

QuickBooks Online estimates are a huge part of running a growing company. It’s important to keep them organized and accurate, not only for your customers but for your team too.

In QuickBooks, what kind of account is an estimate?

Estimates are not accounts themselves, but aim to boost accounts receivable. Estimates in QBO are a way to turn potential customer interest into a sales transaction.

Beyond this, syncing QuickBooks Online with Method can help your sales team create QuickBooks estimates anywhere and anytime.

Let’s dive into how to create an estimate in QuickBooks Online.

How to create an estimate in QuickBooks Online

Estimates in QBO are quick and easy to create. If you know how to set up products and services in QuickBooks Online, then you’re already an expert. 

So, what are the steps to create a new estimate in QuickBooks Online?

Here’s the simple answer: 

Sales > Customers > Estimate > Start Invoice in the Action column.

But that’s not the most comprehensive. We’ve broken it down so you can navigate the QBO estimate process with ease. 

Step 1: Find the estimate screen

In the upper-left menu bar on your QuickBooks Online dashboard, find the + New button, and in the drop-down menu options under Customers, click Estimate. 

Image credit: Intuitive Accountant

Step 2: Enter customer details

On the estimates page, there are a few blank boxes to fill out. The first one is the customer details. You can either pick an existing customer from the drop-down list options or create a new customer by pressing the Add new button.

Customer details include the billing address, shipping address, email address, phone number, and more. You can also attach documents to the customer profile and make notes as needed.

Additionally, you can add more customer info by clicking the + Details button. 

Step 3: Enter estimate details

After the profile is complete, navigate to the search bar under the Product/Service column and choose the products or services (items) you plan to provide for your potential customer.

If you want to create a new item, click the same search bar and press the Add new button. When you fill in the item details and descriptions, make sure to enter the quantity and price of the item as well. 

You can also choose to attach files and a customer message to the estimate. 

Plus, you can create custom estimates using QBO’s Custom form styles feature. You can find this in Lists. But where would you go to see the lists available in QuickBooks Online? It’s simple – you’ll see the Lists tab when you click the Settings gear in the top right corner.

QuickBooks Online estimates allow you to make ahead-of-time invoice notes for turning an estimate into a sales transaction. This is a handy feature to make this flow more efficient. Keep reading to learn how Method:CRM helps! 

How to change estimate template in QuickBooks

To change estimate templates in QuickBooks:

  • Open your estimate.
  • In the Formatting tab, click Manage Templates. 
  • Preview the templates and select one that you like.
  • Click OK to edit the existing template, or click Copy to create a new one.

Can you add pictures to QuickBooks estimates?

You can add pictures to QuickBooks estimates. When you open an estimate, select Attachments at the bottom left of the page. Then, browse and select the image you wish to add.

Step 4: Save and send your estimate

One of the most important steps is to save the QuickBooks Online estimate by pressing the save button in the bottom-right corner of your screen.

If you’re wondering how to send an estimate in QuickBooks Online, you can click on the bottom-right green button labeled Save and send.

Once they’ve been created, there are 4 status types of estimates in QuickBooks Online: 

  • Pending.
  • Accepted.
  • Closed.
  • Rejected.

These statuses track how far along your estimate is in the process, and if any further action is needed.

Step 5: Changing an estimate into an invoice

Once your customer has accepted the estimate, it’s time to convert that estimate to an invoice in QuickBooks Desktop

To do this, go to your dashboard and locate the Sales tab in the left menu bar. In the drop-down menu options, click All Sales.

On this page, click on the blue Estimate tab, and your list of estimates will appear. Find the one you want to turn into a sales transaction and click it.

Take a moment to double-check the entire estimate and make any final changes discussed with your customer.

From there, you can press the Create invoice button in the top-right of the page to transform the estimate into an invoice.

Screenshot of the New + menu in QuickBooks

Image credit: QuickBooks

Note: You cannot edit the status of an estimate once it’s converted into an invoice.

If you want to convert estimate to purchase order in QuickBooks Online, follow the same steps as above, except:

  • Instead of pressing the Create invoice button, select Copy to purchase order. 
  • Add the supplier.
  • Choose the appropriate customer.
  • Then click Save and close.

This is crucial for those who need to know which feature helps streamline the purchasing process once a customer approves an estimate in QBO.

If you’re looking for how to add an existing estimate to a project in QuickBooks Online, look no further. Simply open the estimate, change the Customer name to the Project name, and click Save and close.

Don’t worry about how to close year-end books in QuickBooks Online, either. QBO automatically makes year-end adjustments based on the start month of your fiscal year.

Another popular question is “What are 2 ways to start a credit memo in QuickBooks Online?” Look no further:

  • The most popular way is through the Plus (+) icon in the top right corner. There you can select Credit Memo.
  • The other way is in the Sales menu. There, click All Sales, then New Transaction, and finally Credit Memo.

The secret to smoother QuickBooks Online estimates: Method

Now that you’ve learned how to create an estimate in QuickBooks Online, you can focus on enhancing your QBO estimates through syncing with Method.

Knowing the value that Method brings to your business starts with understanding some of the limitations that QuickBooks Online estimates have. 

The limitations of QuickBooks Online estimates

Learning skills like how to create a mailing list in QuickBooks is useful but time-consuming. Method:CRM makes using QBO all that much easier.

Also, did you know that QuickBooks Online does not have an automated estimate approval process?

It’s true.

As a result, mistakes happen — especially with a team of sales reps, admin staff, and an accounting team all trying to create estimates and manage invoices.

It’s not a good idea to only have your bookkeeper quote for clients on QuickBooks Online, either.

It can be challenging to grow your business with the limitations of QuickBooks Online estimates, and many QBO users work around this by asking customers to approve estimates through email. This doesn’t always go as planned.

The biggest downsides to QuickBooks Online’s current estimate approval system are: 

  • Customers forget to reply to estimate emails.
  • Increased chance of losing the approval email in your inbox.
  • A lack of commitment from customers due to QBO’s informal approval system.
  • Reports of bugs (i.e. QuickBooks top icon bar keeps disappearing for some users).

This is where syncing QuickBooks Online with Method can help you overcome these limitations and close sales sooner by automating the estimate-to-invoice process. 

Easy estimate approval from customers

With Method, you get a fully customizable CRM that allows you to:

  • Get approval from your customers with the click of a button. 
  • Receive an email as soon as a customer approves an estimate.
  • Capture signatures as part of your approval process.

See how Method simplifies the estimate approval process below.

Close deals faster

Turning estimates into sales is way easier when your sales reps can make estimates without QuickBooks Online access. And the best way to do this is not by granting everyone access to your QuickBooks file but rather with Method. 

The advantage of empowering your sales reps to create estimates in Method is that your quote to cash cycle is quicker. Meaning you get paid faster and more often because deals don’t slip through the cracks.

Otherwise, sales opportunities are put on pause as your reps wait on your office team to create estimates in QuickBooks Online. 

You might be wondering, “Can you run QuickBooks on a tablet or other mobile device?” The answer is yes, but operating your accounting software away from your desktop paves way for easy-to-make mistakes.

With Method:CRM, create estimates and sales orders without touching QuickBooks Online even when on the go! Something you and your accountant will be thankful for when it comes to year-end. 

Your sales reps won’t be able to meddle with your actual financial accounts. Plus, they won’t be blowing up your email with questions like “Where is business overview in QuickBooks?” either.

What’s more, Method’s two-way sync ensures these estimates sync with QuickBooks when the deal is sealed. So no more double data entry for you or your team! 

Keep your leads separate from your QuickBooks customers

So many people ask, “What is a good way to handle prospective clients in QuickBooks?” That’s because – truth is – there isn’t one without outside help.

Keep your QuickBooks Online filing system organized and avoid costly mistakes by using Method to keep your leads separate from your QuickBooks customers. This makes sure that your potential and secured sales don’t get mixed up.

This sync saves you and your team from a lot of headaches, including: 

  • Fewer discrepancies in your year-end accounting process.
  • Reduced risk of lead details going missing and customer confusion.
  • More efficient workflows as you can convert a potential customer in Method to an actual customer in QuickBooks Online with the click of a button. 

Get paid sooner

If you’re looking to take your QuickBooks estimate workflow to the next level, Method is the way to go. Here’s why.

You can convert estimates into work orders, invoices, and sales orders in a matter of seconds. Better yet, this process requires just a click of a button instead of tedious copying and pasting.

So while it’s important to know how to create an estimate in QuickBooks Online, Method is the tool to boost your:

  • Profits.
  • Productivity.
  • Customer satisfaction.

With Method, your sales reps create estimates without making mistakes in QuickBooks Online, and invoices are generated by pulling data directly from the approved estimate. 

QuickBooks Online and Method: A sync made in heaven

Now that you’ve learned how to create an estimate in QuickBooks Online and how Method enhances your operations, let’s recap why these systems work best together:

  • Eliminate double data entry with continuous updates between QuickBooks Online and Method.
  • Close sales sooner by allowing customers to accept estimates with the click of a button.
  • Reduce accounting mistakes by creating leads in Method recording actual revenue in QuickBooks Online. 

If you’re ready to upgrade your estimates approval process, start your free trial with Method!

Image credit: Dragana Gordic via AdobeStock

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