How Did The Drone Service Business Get Started?
As “Ohio’s Most Experienced Drone Service Company”, the team at Perfect Perspectives Aerial Imaging have seen countless changes in the drone world over our past 14 years in business. When we decided to venture into the Drone Aerial Photography and Video business way back in 2005, competition was mostly nonexistent. This was due to several reasons. The single rotor UAV helicopter was the primary platform of the time for aerial imaging. A tremendous amount of both technical expertise and piloting skill was required to make these drone systems work safely with any efficacy. All were custom built and GPS autopilots cost around $20K dollars at the time. Sensor gimbal stabilization was slow and not very precise. PCM Communication links had short range and were subject to lock-outs. Very few had the skills or desire to give it a go considering the numerous obstacles present. It was also nearly impossible to get liability insurance underwritten for commercial drone services at the time. The upside for those who prevailed was huge however as they established a market foothold way before the floodgates opened in August of 2016.
Is Starting A Drone Service Business A Good Idea?
Lured by overly optimistic market predictions of 100 billion dollars, there are now approximately 115,000 FAA Part 107 certificated UAS pilots in the U.S. but the growth rate is now slowing. Many thought they could pass the test, buy some gear, launch a website and immediately start making bank deposits. As countless recent listings for used commercial drone systems attest, soaring optimism has been replaced with buyer’s remorse and deflated aspirations in most cases. For example, Perfect Perspectives remains as one of the only profitable, dedicated, full-time drone service providers in Ohio.
The following list details the many reasons why most will not make the Drone Service Business model succeed:
1. The barriers to entry are insignificant. All that is required is to pass a simple test and buy some readily available, inexpensive gear.
2. Little actual technical ability or piloting skill is required to fly a drone for many common applications. Having said that, it is still quite easy to have accidents when getting started.
3. Lack of FAA enforcement has created an environment where there is little fear of consequences for not following the commercial drone regulations.
4. Each day, more and more companies are simply purchasing systems and training personnel to perform drone functions in-house.
5. Many who start a drone service business have no other applicable supporting skills (photographer, video production, engineer, surveyor, NDE/building inspector, etc) or basic experience actually running a viable service business. What most don’t understand is owning/flying the drone is one of the least significant skills required. Most of the time will be spent on things like quoting, invoicing, marketing, networking, accounting and taxes for example. Also, operating a business on a part-time basis is a very different than making a living by putting all your chips in and becoming an entrepreneur.
6. Drone Service Aggregators (middlemen) sign up pilots on a national level and have these same pilots compete against one another by bidding on jobs. These middlemen take a percentage as a finder’s fee. This drives down the rates potential clients are willing to pay for services to the point that in many cases, the final fee doesn’t cover the cost of doing business.
How Has Perfect Perspectives Found Success As Ohio’s Top Drone Service Business?
Hardly a day goes by when we aren’t asked if we have been negatively affected by the rapid increase in competition. We are pleased to report that we continue to gain market share. This is primarily due to the fact that our team has extensive commercial/industrial/entertainment/marketing/aviation business experience and relationships. Additionally, over the past 14 years we have developed a wide array of complimentary skills that allow us to add value and often over-deliver. Every day the “drone piloting” part of the job becomes a less significant piece of the final product we supply. We also have come to realize that most people place a high value on a known quantity they can count on to deliver quality results safely, every single time.