The estimate is an essential written document for professionals who sell and offer services. It is a business tool that can act as a contract when it is signed. So what is the legal value of a quote? What are the mandatory legal notices, and how do you write them correctly? We explain everything to you in this article.
Definition of the quote
The definition of an estimate can be summarized as follows: it is a commercial proposal made by a supplier for a customer. This document is valid for a certain period, during which the customer can accept or refuse it.
Therefore, its primary function is that of a commercial tool, indicating the price of a service before the customer commits. The quote is structured like an invoice, with a list of benefits associated with their price. This allows the client and the professional to agree on the service before it begins.
What does the law say about the estimate? For the professional, the quote has the value of a contract offer. Throughout its validity period, it undertakes to offer the services mentioned therein without modification of prices or conditions after the fact. But until it is signed, this document does not comply with any legislation.
As for the client, he has the choice to sign the document or not. If he accepts, he undertakes to pay for the service as soon as he signs with the mention “Good for agreement” or “Good for works”. He accepts the prices charged and the proposed deadlines. If he refuses the signature, the estimate becomes null and void (it must still be paid if the professional decides to invoice it). On the other hand, a signed estimate is equivalent to an agreement between the two parties.
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Quote vs contract: what’s the difference?
Signing a quote with the same legal value as signing a contract, what’s the difference between the two?
Even though these two documents have the same value in terms of party engagement, an estimate does not contain as much information as the contract. It only covers the essential terms of the transaction without going into details.
From a legal security standpoint, this document is, therefore, less secure than a formal contract. After a signed estimate, it is advisable to establish an agreement to define and cover all the terms of the service and thus avoid potential disputes.
Is the quote compulsory?
It all depends on the transaction. From the moment the customer is informed of the price of the service, the deadlines and the date of execution, and other essential modalities, an estimate may remain optional.
However, there are exceptions for which drawing up a quote is mandatory :
- Service greater than € 1,500: the signature of an estimate or a contract is required to start the service.
- Maintenance, repair, or repair work on a household, electronic or electrical equipment, masonry, insulation, roofing, carpentry, plumbing, painting, glazing, coatings, plastering, chimney sweeping, climatic engineering, etc.
- Personalized service: in the case of a tailor-made proposal with personalized services.
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Why make a quote?
The quote is a contractual commitment. It is handy for securing any commercial relationship and service provision: once signed, it allows the service to be performed. Therefore, it is essential to protect the interests of each party, the customer, and the craftsman.
In the event of late payment or fault, this document also helps frame the dispute from a legal point of view. The legal notices of the estimate and the appendix to the General Conditions of Sale allow you to detail your working conditions and ensure that the client meets your requirements so that you can work in good circumstances.
What elements should be indicated on it?
For the signed document to be flawless, it must contain the mandatory specifications of the estimate :
- The mention “Estimate”;
- The date of drafting and the period of validity;
- The names of the companies concerned, with their SIREN and RCS numbers;
- The contact details of the two parties (customer and craftsman);
- The amount excluding VAT, the applicable VAT rates with associated amounts, and the amount to be paid including VAT;
- The price if you charge it, including travel costs;
- The GTC, general conditions of sale;
- Payment terms and potential late payment penalties;
- The terms of provision of the service, the start date, and the duration of the service;
- Within the framework of a building site, the detail in quantity and nature of the materials and equipment used with their prices and the hourly rates of the labor.
Tips for writing a quote
How to quote? To avoid any misunderstanding and litigation, start by including precise and detailed T & Cs without jargon or abbreviations.
Offer remote electronic signature to reduce travel costs and digitize the process. To be sure to structure it properly, use online quote templates.
Finally, use invoicing software to centralize your documents and simplify the various follow-ups with your customers. Some start at very affordable rates and save you precious time daily.
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