Pricing your drone service is one of the crucial and complex steps for every commercial drone pilot, especially at the beginning of your journey. While weighting your expenses, risk, value and competition might be easier in established industries, in the rapidly growing drone industry you might be the first one to take the step.
It may have initially been the case that simply mastering how to fly a drone was enough to make a drone pilot stand out and help him or her find work. But as the market becomes more saturated with certified drone pilots, this approach just won’t work anymore. One of the keys to standing out in the industry is gaining a specialization and an understanding of what drone jobs are available. Another strategy is to come up with a competitive pricing strategy.
Here we’ll focus on competitive pricing. Now, “competitive” pricing is often viewed as a euphemism for “cheap,” but we don’t think it has to be that way when it comes to pricing your drone services. In this guide we’ll go over how to price your drone services to attract clients while still recognizing the value of your work.
Get Into the Pricing Mindset
The sooner you embrace that you're not just a person with a drone who takes pictures, but rather a licensed and insured commercial sUAS business, the better for your mindset.
Remember that you’re someone who:
- operates incredibly expensive equipment;
- takes on the liability if anything goes wrong;
- handles not just the photo, video, and data capture but also the post-processing (using expensive editing or mapping software);
- has a proven track record with other happy clients;
- is well versed in all local and governmental regulations and has the proper documentation;
- and so on...
The sooner you can embrace all of that, the more confident you'll be when standing behind your pricing, either on your website, in your marketing materials or directly speaking to clients over the phone or in person.
What to Charge for Drone Services
Pricing your drone services is more art than science.
There isn’t a simple answer to the question, How much should I charge for my drone services? However, there are basic principles that you can use to price your services. And remember that there is not one right answer—most likely, there is a range of prices that make sense for your business.
You’ll also have to decide on a pricing structure. When first starting out, you may customize your pricing to meet the needs and budget of each client individually. With this approach, every client relationship is different from the last.This pricing strategy involves a lot of time spent on the phone consulting and negotiating with your client. In the long-term, you’ll want to move toward standardized pricing.
Your pricing and packaging model may always be changing, but the sooner you can commit to something standardized, the easier it'll be to communicate that to prospective clients. Consider one of these common pricing models for drone services:
- Tiered pricing
- Pricing by the hour
- Pricing by deliverable
- Pricing by the half-day or day
Five Factors that Influence Your Pricing
There’s a lot that goes into determining how much your aerial photographs, videos, and data packages that you provide to clients are actually worth. Here are five factors to consider when pricing for your drone services to attract clients:
- The end product. Are you selling a block of 50 photos? A 3-minute YouTube video with music? An orthomosaic map? Each of these command a different type of approach to pricing. If you're doing the post-processing, you've got to factor in that time.
- Your client. Are you working with a real estate broker on a $575,000 listing? What about the CEO of a construction company bidding for an $8 million project? What about a roofing inspector? Each has a unique situation when it comes to hiring an sUAS operator and their own perceived value of the end product.
- Your training/certifications/licenses. If you have a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate and are complying legally in the U.S. national airspace, you should command a higher price than a competitor who isn't flying legally. If you've gone through a training program or have some other certificate you can share, that also helps. For example, Drone Pilot Ground School offers a course diploma to students who pass their proficiency challenge.
- What equipment you're using. While you want to match the equipment to the client and shouldn't simply charge more for using a better system when all else is equal, if the shoot demands an advanced sUAS, you should factor that into your pricing.Flying a DJI Inspire 2 for a cinematographic shoot is different from using a DJI Phantom 4 Professional to take photographs of a golf course or resort property. Not sure what equipment you should use in the first place? Check out this guide to the top professional drones.
- Whether or not you have insurance. Clients don't want to be held liable if something goes wrong. If you can take on that risk with your own liability policy, you're bringing more value and peace of mind to your client. This drone insurance guide walks you through acquiring drone insurance step-by-step.
Hopefully this list gets your brain going.
At the end of the day, pricing is closely related to how much trust and authenticity you can build with your prospective clients. That's the most important thing to remember.
About UAV Coach
UAV Coach is an sUAS training company that reports on drone industry news to a community of over 50,000 drone enthusiasts around the world. They track global regulations and product launches, offer a Drone Pilot Ground School Part 107 test prep course, and train students how to fly safely and professionally.