How to make a killer project cost estimate

Editorial Team

5 min read
Landscaper looking at clipboard

You’ve made a fantastic first impression, and you’re about to land a new client. Your foot is already in the door; you just need to close the deal and sign some papers. It’s crunchtime.

Luckily, you know just the way to move to the next step–drafting an organized and optimized project cost estimate. 

Wait, what is a project cost estimate? (Asking for a friend.)

Well your friend came to the right place. Clover is here to help you, and your friend, understand the necessary elements of a project cost estimate and how to make a template to save yourself time in the future.

A project cost estimate is an outline of the agreement between businesses or organizations, including project deliverables, timelines, required resources, and payment terms. Think of it as a statement of work (SOW) between you and your prospective client.

What to include in your project cost estimate


Within your project cost estimate, make sure to include the primary points of contact from both organizations. Additionally, include details of who will be involved in the project, and what they are accountable for. 


It’s likely within both businesses’ interest to keep this project on time and orderly. Include a broad timeline of when the client can expect deliverables or service work completed. Also, we recommend including details about the client’s review timelines and any needed legal reviews. This can help ensure that your workforce has all the needed information in time to provide your best service and product.


You’re the best of the best, and you’re going to provide the best results. Let the client know! Make sure to include information on all the services and items your business will provide. This will help the potential client know exactly what they are going to be receiving, so there are no questions or disagreements at the tail-end of this project. This will help with maintaining positive relationships with clients and will hopefully result in repeat customers.


Within your project cost estimate, make sure to include all costs included in your services. This includes any parts, labor, or extraneous services. Then tie all these costs together in a bow with a final price tag for the client to sign off on. Also, make sure to include payment timeline details. Do you require half of the payment upfront to cover parts costs? Prefer Net30 terms? Include all of these details within the document so your business gets your money in a timely fashion.

Clover Pro-Tip

Don’t sell yourself short! You know your service is top-of-the-line, so don’t decrease your costs to a point that will make this additional client not worth your time. Make sure to complete competitive research in your industry and location to price your service competitively and profitably. 

Building a job estimate template

Your time is money, so it’s time to streamline this process. 

Once you feel like you’ve created a great project or job cost estimate, we recommend converting the document into an editable template.

Clover provides a seamless integration with QuickBooks through Commerce Sync, which can help with this. QuickBooks allows you to create branded job estimates within the platform easily. When using your previously created documents to build this template, make sure to remove any personal information or details about that project. This will help prevent you from accidentally sending someone else’s details to a new potential client – a surefire way to turn off a customer.

Additionally, we recommend putting an obvious marker or symbol in all the areas you’ll need to fill out for each individual job, so you never leave a detail to chance. This could be big, bolded text, a bright highlight, or an obviously incorrect set of characters, such as XXXXXXXX.

Remember to save this document within your platform, so you can easily access it later and make the few needed changes before sending it to a client. You’ll save yourself (billable) hours each time you fill it out and your clients will be impressed you have such professional documentation ready in a flash.

Show me the money

So your potential client loved your project cost estimate and wants to move forward with your services – congrats! Now it’s time for everyone’s favorite part – getting paid. 

Luckily, Clover makes this incredibly easy and hands free. Using Clover Virtual Terminal, you can have customers pay you directly through your signed project estimate. Whether it’s a one-time flat cost, or a recurring payment, Virtual Terminal has you covered. You can collect these payments seamlessly from both credit cards and debit cards. Upon payment, you can automatically send virtual receipts for the client’s records. The Virtual Terminal also has payment authorization features, so you never receive any funny money.

Business, efficiently 

As a service business owner or operator, you wear many hats. Unfortunately, there’s a limited amount of hours in the day. That’s why Clover is here for you to help streamline your processes and business. With updated project cost estimate documentation, you’re sure to save yourself some much needed time and trouble.  

Learn more about how Clover helps service businesses with tracking and reporting, employee management, and even cash flow.

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