Pricing By Work Product?


Recommended Posts

For those doing commercial drone services, how do you handle the pricing structure when the work product involves different types of products such as Othomosaic Photos, 360-degree Spherical Panoramas, and 3D Models / Point Clouds?
It seems the data acquisition phase (the flying) can easily be an hourly rate.  But these work products I've mentioned have varying degrees of complexity, labor, processing time, and most importantly value to the client.
So for example, what do you charge for a 360 Spherical Panorama and how did you come to that figure?  Do you break it out or just quote a total price for the job which includes travel, setup, flying, processing and delivery (not to mention normal business overhead costs must be factored in).  Or do you break it out into data acquisition, and then post-processing?
It seems the post-processing on a 360 Pano might be in the range of around 15 minutes of work, if that.  So if your hourly rate is $100/hr do you charge $25 per pano?  That seems very low considering in the client's eyes it can be a very useful and impressive work product.
What about a 3D Model?  It might be a half hour of labor setting up and verifying the processing, and depending on the complexity could be several hours of server time crunching the numbers.  How do you assess a fair price?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not sure there's a need to break it out by travel, set up time, etc. But I've always liked the idea of breaking it out by data acquisition vs. post-processing. That demonstrates that you're not just a guy with some cool drone equipment, but that there's real expertise here and that you're taking the data and rendering in a way that'll be beneficial to the client. That's where the real value is and what separates you from a commoditized drone pilot who charges by the hour.

Re: the data acquisition part, I know a handful of pilots who charge a flight minimum of 2-3 hours. So even if you're only up in the air for 15 minutes, you're still charging your minimum, which makes sense given the airspace research / scouting you're doing, the travel, set up, flying, take down, etc. You can also charge a half-day or day rate as well.

And on the post-processing side, you're absolutely right that some of the end products have varying degrees of work / expertise, and you should build that into your rate.

If a client balks at your price, ask them why. That'll help you understand product / market fit and whether or not that particular type of mission and use case and client are going to be a good fit for you longer term. Building a service-based business is tough! It's a lot of back-and-forth and experimentation, particularly with price and service delivery, until you feel like you're getting it right.

Internally, I like the idea of tracking your hours just so you know how to forecast your own efforts. When I ran a marketing agency a few years ago, I had an internal goal of getting at least $100 for every billable client hour. My pricing evolved over time to be more value-based vs. simply deliverable or hours-based, but that number helped me understand whether or not I was finding success on a month-to-month basis.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When a potential client is on a fact finding mission or price shopping, it has been helpful when I remind them that there is more than one component  that comprises a drone service. When they hire a drone service they are getting a pilot, the craft a photographer and an editing service.

Those services can be priced out individually so the client can see exactly where the costs of said services are applied. I have had success pricing my services in separate  catagories. The cost of hiring a pilot and craft can be one rate dependent upon the mission request. If photography is desired, I have separate  rates for stills vs video. And if the client needs the footage edited, there is a separate  hourly rate for that service.

I found compartmentalizing the services not only helps the potential client understand the rates and reasons for same but helps them determine which said services they really need based upon their mission request and budget.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.