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Don’t let the Latin confuse you. Pro forma means “for the sake of form.” A pro forma invoice is simply an estimate or quote sent to a client that details the costs of goods or services.
For example, a web developer who works for an hourly rate might send a pro forma invoice that shows the rate and the estimated number of hours needed to build the customer a website. Or a software developer who works by a project rate could send a client a quote that lays out the total cost of the project.
Caution, a pro forma invoice is not an actual invoice. At this stage, you’re providing the pro forma invoice so the client can figure out their costs. It’s not a done deal. Therefore, the client should not place a pro forma invoice in their Accounts Payable queue, and you shouldn’t enter it into your Accounts Receivable.
Once both sides have agreed on what services are required, or goods delivered, and at what price, then you send an actual invoice. Some bookkeeping software lets you convert your pro forma invoice to a standard invoice and saves the trouble of inputting the information yourself.
Any time a client requests an estimate, you can send them a pro forma invoice and then come to an agreement on the particulars. Also, pro forma invoices are used in cases where customs fees are a consideration (like Europe’s VAT tax,) to show the value of the goods being sold.
Remember the key reasons for using a template. A template ensures that you put in the key information like your payment terms, the goods or services provided, and your due date. By already containing some key information like your address and contact information, a template lessens the chance you’ll make a mistake when you’re hurrying.
Just as you can use Google Docs, FreshBooks, LessAccounting, Microsoft Word, QuickBooks or Sage One to generate invoice templates, you can also create templates for your pro forma invoices.
Imagine how much time you’ll save the next time a potential client requests a quote! Bring up your pro forma template and shoot it over to them while it’s still fresh in their mind so you can close that deal.