It’s easy to get confused between a quote and invoice. While they appear to be the same, they serve completely different purposes in a business. There are marked differences between them, which, once learned, can clear the cloud in your mind regarding when to use them. Sometimes, both quotes and invoice are needed and serve to complement each other, while other times, only an invoice is enough.
A quote states how much a business charges for the goods and service it provides for a particular venture and how it came to that amount. It’s a formal statement and essentially a promise, which can be in both written or verbal. It works as assurance for both the company and the client, as the client knows they won’t be charged anything later while the business knows they will gain exactly the promised amount as long as they get the job done.
Usually, a quote is valid for a limited period of time, about 30 days in most cases. It is negotiable, as long as the client and business come to a particular agreement. However, this negotiation is only possible before the work is completed. You won’t need to change your inventory in case of a quote, as the work is still ongoing. It’s only when an invoice has been made that the inventory is changed.
Quotes mostly contain the amount, time, tax, discount rate, cost of labor, the purpose of the quote and other such things. It is expected that quotes are as honest as possible so that customers get the most accurate representation of the price they will see in their invoice.
An invoice is different from a quote, in that it is the final statement. It contains what the client owes the company for the services= they were provided or the good that was delivered to them. It’s a comprehensive list with an amount on each line for each good and service on the particular dates, before providing with the final amount.
Unlike quotes, it is non-negotiable. As the business has already used all its resources for a particular job, they expect exactly what they have written on the invoice.
Usually, a business would give a client a quote first, agree on an amount and do the job, and then provide the final cost in the invoice. Other than the price and list of work done, it contains VAT and discounts.
You can find all details about what each invoice must include at as well as very important payment obligations at gov.uk.
Now that we know what quote and invoice are, it becomes incredibly easy to understand when which one is used. In case of a service or good where the company has a fixed rate from the start, a quote would not be needed. The client would know beforehand, give the order and get the invoice at the end of the work.
When it’s a good or service where the price changes frequently, say when a client gives their car for repair to the car shop, a quote is made first. This is done because the prices of the parts of a car fluctuate frequently, which in turn affects the repair cost. This makes it impossible to agree on a fixed price beforehand.
There, now you know when to use a quote and when to go for the invoice alone. This will save both you and your business a generous amount of time. Usually when you have a quote, you can simply use the data to turn it into an invoice later.
We recommend using the smart online tools like Quikflw which helps you to create beautiful and professional quotations in just a few seconds and you can convert quotation to invoice with just a few clicks.