Whether you fly drones to take pretty pictures or map, most drone pilots wonder how to price your drone mapping services.
Pricing drone mapping services hasn't become any easier. Let's face it, the drone industry hasn't stopped because of Covid. The volume of drone mapping and inspection services has skyrocketed this year. Our industry intelligence report showcases that over 90% of drone pilots see and still expect market growth. Construction and general building permits have hit an all time high. The demand for drone pilots to augment existing businesses is skyrocketing. The ability to save money, make money and limit liability is rewarding for numerous businesses.
With this huge influx of growth, many pilots wonder exactly how to price their drone mapping services.
When a new service comes to market... a flood of new users underprice jobs to gain market share. When this strategy is focused and limited in scope, it can be successful. (Loss Leader) Often times, a huge supply of pilots offering the same service, will drop prices. (Keynesian economics) Drone pilots shouldn't fall into this trap of racing to the bottom. Drone pilots should focus on a particular niche in mapping or modeling. They should be focused on which client they wish to serve in the client quadrant.
After training thousands of pilots, we hear the same questions in mapping classes each week. How much should I charge for my services? Should I price by the hour; and what deliverables dictate what cost?
As someone who has worked in sales, all of these finite aspects of pricing dilute one's ability to negotiate. Stay flexible when pricing your services, you will need leverage. Look...many economists and consultants would tell you that the market will only bear certain pricing. Yeah, they've never met a stellar salesmen...even more so...saleswoman.
The biggest pricing problems that we see with drone pilots:
Before we dive into the pricing of drone mapping, we wanted to give you a sense of comparison. How much are drone pilots charging for creative drone jobs? How much are drone pilots charging for technical drone jobs?
Which type of drone job actually pays more, creative or technical? Are drone pilots flying more mapping jobs or more creative jobs?
Survey says... Vast majority of drone pilots offer creative and technical services. Which illustrates our point that drone pilots should be able to offer packages to clients. They will be limited in success if a drone pilot niches down too far or is unable to offer mapping and smooth video. Mapping is not the sole goal for most companies. They typically want the map plus media for marketing the jobs and their services.
During our recent Aerial Intelligence Survey, drone pilots let us know exactly how much money they were charging for all sorts of drone jobs. While the average price point for a drone job might surprise you, we were not surprised to learn that mapping jobs actually paid higher premiums than creative jobs.
The average price point of a creative drone job will almost always be priced lower than a technical drone job. So what are drone pilots really charging for their drone mapping services?
The answer is... it depends.
Based on our aerial intelligence survey there are two distinct methods of pricing. Some drone pilots are pricing their mapping services based on an hourly rate. While a vast majority of other drone pilots are pricing their services based on a day rate. These two paradigms do not cover the pilots who price on deliverable. Albeit, this information really doesn't paint the entire picture. There are so many considerations when pricing your drone mapping job. There are so many variables.
Finally, how are drone pilots pricing their drone mapping services?
It is easy to get excited when you get a call for a drone mapping job. Albeit this excitement can blind us from hidden costs that suck out our profits. There are many considerations to think of when pricing your drone mapping job.
The largest consideration for pricing your drone mapping job is to consider offering package pricing. Remember during another survey we offered, the top three drone deliverables do include a drone mapping deliverable: an orthomosaic. Pilots are also being asked to acquire more than just mapping data. They are often asked to take pretty pictures and buttery smooth video. It makes sense, the hiring company wants to ensure your time is used as-efficiently-as-possible. One particular trend has persisted from survey to survey. Package pricing.
What sort of things should you be thinking about when pricing your drone mapping job? The biggest issue is that pilots only price for their time to fly, they do not price on value or price for the total time to complete the job. This is the biggest problem we have seen with drone pilots. When pricing your drone mapping services, you might want to consider the following when pricing.
When it comes to pricing your drone mapping services, the type of drone job can vary wildly. Some drone mapping jobs ask pilots to just collect photos. Drone pilots are being hired by drone jobbing aggregators, but typically pay the least. Albeit those jobs also require the least amount of work. These jobs can also setup a pilot to fail at a fast rate. They're given the false assumption that they know how to complete drone mapping jobs. Yet they have only completed acquisition. They're not running or processing the data and learning from their mistakes. They aren't learning what acquisition strategy worked for a particular area of a map. They're not learning from their mistakes.
Some drone mapping jobs will just require acquisition of data. Some drone mapping jobs will require processing of data. Some drone jobs will require you to process data, deliver a technical dataset but also visualize the model for the client. This is why we teach about Google Poly, Potree/ODM and Sketchfab during our mapping classes. Most drone mapping clients cannot quickly and easily visualize data. Clients want to be able to view data on their mobile phone, not just in auto cad.
When your client asks for multiple drone mapping deliverables, don't be afraid to charge for those extra deliverables. If clients change their mind, or are not educated enough to know exactly what they need... that is not your fault. You should charge for the extra time to complete the extra deliverables. Albeit, you should also ensure the client understands what they are asking for. Ultimately we always start the conversation with "What problem are you trying to solve."
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