Why Make Out A Detailed Estimate?

When many upholsterers see my estimate form they can easily get overwhelmed with the amount of details on it. I've been asked before,

  • "Why make out such a complicated estimate?
  • Why not just look at the piece and give a price?
  • One might even go as far as to ask,
  • "Why keep records at all?"
  • Isn't all that paperwork a waste of valuable time?" 

Those are reasonable questions that deserve an answer. Giving estimates are the live blood of the business. No estimate - No jobs. To be sure, not everyone needs to be using an estimate form like mine. Many upholsterers just look at a piece of furniture, do a few figures in their head, and give the client the price. That has never worked for me. Every time I've tried that I forget to charge for various items or services and I way undercharge the jobs.

Here are some reasons why I use the detailed estimate form with clients.

  1. Think the Job through: Helps me to think through what is needed on each job before I give the client a price. Also, it helps me to have it all written out so that I remember what I was thinking when I made out the estimate.
  2. Stops Price Dickering by Client: Having a detailed estimate takes away the price dickery with a client. If they want to spend less, they choose the cheaper option or some items or services might be deleted from the estimate. The client can clearly see what they will have to give up to get the cheaper price.
  3. Clear Understanding: It gives a clear description of what is included in the estimate and what is not included. It takes a way the misunderstandings of "I thought that was included!" "No it wasn't included!" or the upholsterer having to do some part of the job for free because he had forgot to charge for it.
  4. Informs Clients: It informs the client of all the little things that I might forget to tell her, such as approximate completion time, of my policies and procedures.
  5. Client's Own Materials: Sometimes in the past I have either forgotten or have felt too scared or intimidated to tell the client that there is an extra charge for them buying their own fabric.The form automatically gives the price when the client brings their own material. It's all clearly laid out for the client.
  6. To Better Remember: I try to put everything on the estimate that I need to remember. In my upholstery business when I give an estimate it may be days, weeks, or months before a client decides to proceed with the job. Having a picture of the furniture on the estimate and having all the details clearly laid out helps me remember what is included in the estimate and what is not included. If a client comes back several weeks or months later to have me do the job, I won't remember what I told her. If it isn't written out it is the same as if it never happened.
  7. Gives Clients Better Control of their Budget: The client can clearly see what she will get for each choice. They can compare their budget with the totals of each choice.
  8. Gives Clients More Confidence: No hidden supprises. Besides having all the prices listed, the estimate also includes any other possible charges, if needed.


Well, my estimate form is not for everyone. It is mainly of interest to those who are proficient at computers, who are very detail oriented, who want to keep an accurate record of the details of the estimate.

Phrases like, "Everything is included" is really meaningless and leaves so much room for misunderstanding.