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Drone Service Providers Weigh in On Determining Price Points

Courtesy of DroneDeploy

By all accounts, the commercial drone industry is booming. When Part 107 licensing became available in August of 2016, the FAA certified 12,000 remote pilots in the first three weeks alone. By the time the year came to a close, this number had reached 23,000, and the total number of drones registered with the FAA was at 670,000 — twice the number of registered manned aircraft. If you are a new drone service provider trying to figure out your place in this landscape, the question of pricing is likely top of mind.

It comes up time and again in forums and Q&A sessions. How do I price my drone services to stay both competitive and profitable? To help new drone businesses get a sense of what other drone service providers are charging, we dug into data from both the DroneDeploy Drone Mapping Directory and our friends at Airstoc, and also spent time talking with established drone service providers about the nuances of pricing.

Factors that Affect Pricing of Drone Services

When it comes to pricing drone services, Justin Moore of Airborne Aerial Photography points out that there are many variables at play. “It’s so localized and so different based on your market and based on so many other factors,” says Justin. There is no magic number, and this can be frustrating for someone just starting out. But the good news is, there is a general method to the madness. Most drone businesses we spoke to said that they begin with a per-hour rate that will allow them to remain profitable and then adjust that rate up or down depending on a number of elements. After they have gotten a good sense of pricing, value delivered, and the market in general, most providers move to a project rate. Some variables that affect rates include:

  • Travel surcharges: Is a job outside of your regular service area?
  • Insurance coverage: Do your clients require you to carry a large liability policy?
  • Industry: What industry do you work with, and what are the price points in that industry?
  • Deliverables and quality: What maps or models do you provide your clients?
  • Level of expertise: Do you have a special license or certification such as a professional engineer or licensed surveyor?
  • Pricing-per-acre: For your industry, is it better to charge per-acre instead of per-hour?
  • Market value and ROI: What problems do your services solve and how much is that worth to your clients?

So what do all of these considerations mean in the real world of drone mapping? Here’s what the drone mapping providers we spoke to had to say about the finer points of pricing- READ MORE