Growing Your Commercial Drone Business
Congratulations, you have decided to start a commercial drone business! With over 100,000 registered remote pilots in the United States, you are in good company. Drones have established themselves as crucial tools in a wide range of industries. Companies in construction, energy, agriculture, and surveying are finding ways to harness the power of aerial data to make their operations safer and more efficient while providing actionable data to make their teams more effective. Below we outline various considerations you should have to find drone jobs, price your UAS services, and create sustainable success.
Define Your Niche & Service Offerings
The more defined your niche is the more likely potential customers in that segment will be to go with you as their drone service provider. So to narrow your niche and service offerings ask yourself: What industries do I already understand and have experience & connections in? Based on my location, what types of companies around me could benefit from drone services? Answering these questions will help you define your niche and select the most appropriate target market for your business. Then make sure you have the proper UAV service contracts and agreements necessary to protect yourself and your business.
Build Your Portfolio
Every project is an opportunity to build your drone service portfolio which is necessary to showcase your business and the value you can bring to clients. Prospects often ask to see a proven sample that you can do what you say you can. Build out a portfolio as relevant to your niche as possible. For example, if you are trying to sell photogrammetry services, then have models & final deliverables ready that you have produced for past clients. Just make sure you get permission from your clients to share the work you completed from them.
Find Drone Jobs & Clients
The number of commercial drone pilots and UAS service providers is growing very quickly. With that said, the market is becoming more saturated so it is vital to position yourself accordingly in the market. Ask yourself, who is my ideal customer and where can I find them? Gaining new clients is not an easy task. You must have multiple channels you use for marketing & business development. These methods can consist of cold calling/emailing your target market, attending networking or industry-specific events, conducting demos or pro-bono work to build your portfolio, creating a social media presence, or networking with your existing contacts and asking for referrals.
Another avenue is to join drone networks to fly and gain experience. The best part about flying drone jobs for a pilot network is that they do the client development for you, which means you save time prospecting and closing the sale, which allows you the ability to get better at flying your drone. Professional drone pilot networks like Skye Link can help connect you to potential clients and help you find UAV operator drone jobs. Skye Link community for drone pilots gives you the tools to set up and market your drone service business. Not everyone is a professional marketer, so this option might help you focus on what matters most, your skills and professional knowledge.
Pricing Your Work
To create any sustainable business your pricing needs to be competitive with the market but still allow you to be profitable. You will have to do research to create a pricing structure that will permit you to find long term success. Your pricing should also be flexible and situational. The most basic way to price your service is by hour or by day. Although this may work for many projects, you may want to consider creating custom project-based quotes. The latter being the best way when there are many other factors at play such as your location, market/competition, and the value you are delivering.
Consider these factors and questions when determining your service price:
- Location – What is the market rate in your area?
- Travel – Where is this job located and how far away is it from your normal service area?
- Time – How much time is required to prepare for the job, collect the data/footage and conduct the post-processing work to finalize the deliverable(s)?
- Incurred costs – What additional costs will be incurred to complete this project including insurance, software, equipment, etc?
- Level of Expertise – How much experience do you have in this area? Do you have additional credentials such as being a licensed surveyor?
- Value of Deliverables – How big is the value you are providing with your service and deliverables?
Once you have determined a fair price that is competitive and matches the time & value you are delivering to your client the last step is presenting the quote. A professionally written proposal or a sharp, detailed invoice can make the difference in persuading your client the price is worth their investment. Just make sure you don’t overbid your competitors or underbid the value you will bring to the table.ficult on pilots who have the burden of traveling on a weekly basis. If you operate in a tight geographic area, then national coverage may not be important, but then you likely don’t have the monetary resources to fully invest in points 1-3.