Raising the industry standard
Drone technology is rapidly advancing and all the smartest companies are finding uses for commercial drones. Now is an exciting time to be developing drone applications and finding new and creative ways to improve small businesses with the use of drones for everything from surveying to farming to deliveries and GPS mapping.
Right off the bat, if you are using commercial drones in your business you need to understand that you are NOT a hobbyist. Therefore, you don’t need to be flying in the same lane as the hobbyists.
You know the hobbyists. They are out there charging next to nothing an acre for surveying because they don’t understand the value of the information surveyors obtain. This is where you are different.
As an example, the surveying industry is taking a hit because of hobbyists thinking they can do it for a living. But these hobbyists haven’t done the research and don’t have an understanding of what the conventional surveying method costs.
Know your value. Recognize your worth. Here’s how you’re going to do that:
- Create a business model that works
As a provider of drone services, you must be confident of the value in what you’re offering. You’re also going to want to cut back just a little on your rates so you remain competitive. There is a delicate balance between charging what’s a respectable fee and wading into the kiddie pool with the hobbyists. Your return needs to be lower than what the industry standard is, but not low enough for Joe Schmoe to be your competition. Don’t undervalue yourself just to get work! That leads to more work, less money, and you being burned out in no time. If you’re doing work in-house, you need to charge what the conventional methods are if not a little more! Experience, accuracy, communication…when professional surveyors request a quote they expect professional work at a professional price. If you lowball it, you get a lowball result.
- Use your time and investment wisely
Let’s also not throw out low numbers just because your drone is paid for. That’s only temporary. You’re going to need to constantly reinvest. There’s an average of 3-year turnaround on these drone technologies. The problem is once people buy the drones, spend $30k on the sensors, $5k for the software, $7k for the computer, $25k in training, etc….it’s a $60k+ investment. They think once that’s spent they are done investing…but that simply isn’t the case. You need to prepare for this by charging what you’re worth!
- Know Your Customer’s Needs
You need to know your market and your customer as well as you know your own business. Get to work developing a brand identity, marketing plan, and customer profile so you and everyone on your team is on the same page. What is it that makes the customers in your area unique and what is it, most importantly, that they want? Begin with the end in mind. This business is not about the drones. It’s about what you’re going to do with the drones and how that benefits your customers. Develop applications that have a purpose. Think of ways you can surprise and delight your clients, setting yourself apart from the competition.
- Do the Work
If we’re going to raise the value of drones in the industry, then we have to hit the ground running (or flying, as the case may be). Hobbyists do all of this piecemeal, making the industry look bad. Their services wind up costing more money because the data isn’t accurate… they’re dangerously close to giving drone applications a bad name. The key is, YOU know the difference and what you’re worth. Think about all the time and money that goes into being a professional running a professional business: worker’s comp, insurance, travel costs…you need to do your homework on the market, the value of the market, and the value of the service you’re providing if you want any long term stability.
If you keep these things in mind, you’ll be able to move your business out of the same lane the hobbyists are flying in, boost your bottom line and help elevate the commercial drone business as a whole.