An estimate is often your first formal contact with a potential client, and one of the most important pieces of communication they will receive from you. It can win (or lose) you the job, and will act as a point of reference throughout the entire project. For your client, the estimate is an essential tool for them to decide which service provider they will go with and it offers them peace of mind about the job ahead.

Here’s how you can impress potential clients and win the job with a perfectly crafted estimate:

Use a professional, digital format

Good news – if you’re already sending estimates digitally with Invoice2go, you’re ahead of the game. Using a digital format will help you make sure your first piece of communication is a professional one. It also signals that you’re savvy, and likely to use the latest tools and best practices on the job. Plus, you can create and email the estimate in minutes after meeting the client, giving you the best chance of winning the job.

“I beat out 50% of the competition simply by being first.” – Brakovision media owner Troy Brakovich

Take a transparent approach and itemize everything

The estimate phase is also the time to signal that you are transparent, and any future dealings with you will carry no surprises. Spend the extra time to itemize everything. If it makes sense, separate labor and parts, and price each part separately. Bundling multiple items into one can cast a shadow of doubt, and that’s something that won’t help you when you’re trying to win the job. Be clear about hourly rates, and add in a certain percentage for the unknown (being clear that this number may realistically be less if all goes to plan).

Attach photos of your past work

Every part of the digital paper trail gives you a new chance to market your work, and the estimate is no exception. Whether you’re a landscaper, graphic designer or dog groomer, attach photos that show what you’re capable of. Since you’re sending it digitally, you can also include a link to an online portfolio if you have more photos to show.

To attach photos to your estimate from Invoice2go, open the estimate you would like to edit. Tap Edit, scroll to the bottom and tap Attach photos. Either take a photo using your camera or select one from your photos. On the estimate, the images will appear in attachments below the estimate.

Add industry accreditations

Industry credibility matters to potential clients. Show that you’re involved in your industry, and include any recognition or accreditations you’ve received.

Tap on Settings from the side navigation menu and then Customize invoice. Tap Design and then Logo from the bottom menu. Select ‘Add an additional image’ and either take a photo or choose from your photos. Your accreditations or certificates will be added to your document header.

Payment terms out in the open

Be up front about how you expect to be paid, and include your payment terms in clear language right on the estimate. It helps to use short, clear, simple wording like “days to pay” instead of “net”. Bring it up in your initial conversation about the estimate – your customers will appreciate your professionalism, and it will minimize the back and forth at the end of a project that can end up getting in the way of payment.

Send it immediately

We mentioned this one earlier, but we cannot overemphasize the importance of sending your estimates as quickly as possible – either as you’re discussing it on the spot with your potential customer, or straight after you hang up the phone. While your competition is waiting to send their estimates out at the end of the day, yours is already sitting in your customers’ inbox. One business owner told us recently they automatically beat out 50% of the competition simply by being first.

Your estimates are an important communication tool for your business to start every project on the right foot. Use them to your advantage to establish credibility, build trust, and most importantly, win more business.