It has taken years, but Xero has at last added integrated quoting to its online accounting software.
Providing customers with written quotes is standard practice for many small businesses, notably tradespeople. But as we noted in our 2013 survey of SME accounting software, Xero's approach to quoting required a manual process based on draft invoices. There are also some third-party add-ons such as Quotient, but that means extra cost.
But quoting eventually reached the top of Xero's development list, and it comes at no additional cost as part of the latest release. That's one of the benefits of cloud software: as long as you keep paying the subscription, you get all the latest features without having to worry about upgrading the software or installing patches.
Being able to easily generate a quote - cloud software and today's smartphones and tablets mean you can do it on the spot rather than waiting until you're back at base - helps develop a positive image, and Xero also provides tools to help manage and follow up on quotes.
Once the customer gives the go-ahead and the services are provided or the goods delivered, a quote can be turned into an invoice very simply.
Xero also suggests that quotes encourage small businesses to sell on value rather than time (once the price is set, it's in your interest to work as efficiently as possible rather than stretching out a job), and the clarity they provide reduces the risk of disagreements leading to delayed payments.
"Quotes is another step in our journey to establish Xero as the complete platform for small businesses growth", said Rod Drury, CEO, Xero. "As online accounting is starting to exceed the features of desktop software we're now able to look specifically at how to help small business make more money. Robust and integrated processes around quotes and estimates are a great way to improve small businesses performance."
Xero's plans start at $25 per month, but that price covers just five invoices, five bills and 20 bank transactions each month and so is only relevant to very small businesses. Most would need to move to the $50 per month plan which removes those restrictions and increases the payroll capacity from one to five employees.