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Job estimate best practices

Job Estimate Best Practices Checklist

Did you forget something while preparing your estimate? This checklist will help you make sure everything is in order.


  • Introduction
  • Proposal checklist
  • Information about templates
  • Proposal template examples

Forgetting something?

Estimating a job can get complicated fast. It’s easy to accidentally skip a step when putting together a proposal, no matter how many times you’ve done it in the past.

That can put you in a tough spot. Missing or incorrect information in a proposal can reflect poorly on your business, or in the worst case, leave you on the hook for major errors in costs or timelines.

This checklist will help you make sure you didn’t forget anything during the process of putting together your proposal. And to save you time the next time around, we’ve also included some information about templatizing your estimate process and a few examples of proposal templates.

Estimates, proposals, quotes, and bids

This checklist is intended to help you put together a proposal — a client-facing document that contains all the details about the job, as well as binding language for both you and your client and a place for your client to sign and accept the terms.

You might also refer to this kind of document as an estimate, quote, or bid.

We prefer the term proposal as it’s less ambiguous. Estimates, quotes, and bids sometimes refer to less formal documents sent earlier in the process of winning a job. If that’s what you’re preparing now, this checklist will cover some things you might not need to include (i.e. payment information)

Proposal checklist

Pull up your proposal and make sure you can check every box on this list before you send it to the client. 

Job description

☐ The proposal contains a written description of the job

☐ The description notes the specific area(s) being worked on

☐ The description includes any relevant measurements/counts

☐ The description clearly defines what is and is not in scope for this job


☐ The proposal contains an estimated timeline for completing the job

☐ The timeline is achievable based on my resource availability, and I’ve considered the impact of other projects in progress on the timeline

☐ The timeline includes some padding for delays due to weather, permits, supply issues, and other disruptions


☐ The proposal includes labor costs

☐ I’ve considered whether or not I’ll need to hire subcontractors based on the size of the job, and this is reflected in the labor costs

☐ I’ve considered whether the timeline will require additional labor for quick delivery, and this is reflected in the labor costs


☐ The proposal includes all materials that will be needed for the job

☐ Each material is listed alongside its quantity

☐ I’ve double checked my materials quantities to avoid underestimating


☐ I’ve marked up each cost to include my desired profit margin

☐ I’ve included any discounts that were agreed to with the client

General information

☐ The proposal includes my logo and branding

☐ The proposal includes my contact information, including phone number and address

☐ The proposal includes the client’s name and the address of the job site

☐ The proposal includes my company’s terms and conditions

Payment information

☐ The proposal includes instructions for paying the balance, including accepted payment methods

☐ The payment instructions include a payment schedule

☐ The payment instructions contain information about fees and penalties for late payments

Last looks

☐ The proposal document is free of typos and grammatical errors

☐ The proposal is in line with my branding and the image I want to project as a business

☐ The proposal is clear and easy to read

I’ve checked all the boxes above and I’m ready to send my proposal

Next time, why not use a template?

If this checklist seems like a lot, we’ve got good news for you: there’s an easier way.

Estimate/proposal templates are a huge time saver that will prevent you from having to start from scratch every time you bid on a new job.

If you’re looking for help creating a template that includes your standard format, rates, business information, and terms, check out Estimate Rocket. We offer pre-built templates for a huge range of job types that can be customized to fit your business and workflow.

Our easy-to-use software will also help you…

  • Keep track of customer information and job details
  • Use measurements and evaluations to determine a price for your proposal
  • Understand your gross profit margin
  • Automate following up with customers
  • Track whether or not invoices have been paid
  • Create a central place for team collaboration and project management
  • View up-to-the-minute reports on every job
  • Understand your business’s financial health
  • And more!

Try Estimate Rocket for free

About The Author

Tom Droste Headshot

Tom Droste, CEO of Estimate Rocket, coaches company leaders in sales and profit planning, and software implementation.

Estimate Rocket is an end-to-end software solution that enables service contractors to run their businesses efficiently, saving time and money so they can stop focusing on technology and start focusing on their customers and the work that matters. Serving thousands of successful companies across the globe, Estimate Rocket blends a unique mix of business and service contracting expertise to bring solutions that grow our customers profits an average of 34% every year.

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