BONUS: How to Build a Drone Mapping Business with Stable, Recurring Revenues with Tom Powers
We are hey everyone and welcome to another edition of ask drone. You weve got a very special guest today and i hope that he is going to help you better understand where some of the drone jobbing opportunities lie. Now. Last week a lot of you heard from glenn labay and the success that hes having in solar inspections and weve even had tom powers on the show previously to talk about the success that he has been having with roof inspections as a whole. But now tom seems to be actually augmenting those roof, inspection, jobs with well, an industry that seems to be growing in the wake of the pandemic and post pandemic world were talking about construction, new homes being built, and a lot of people have been doing construction progression. Reports, but you hear about it all the time, but only typically with commercial construction or multi family units. That said this is where tom powers well has not been getting. Business hes been getting business in a whole new industry vertical regarding residential construction. So help me welcome our good friend and instructor mr tom powers, tom. How are you doing bud doing well, thanks so much for having me on the show, definitely appreciate having you here on the show today i know youre a busy man and youre doing a lot of drone jobs. So i appreciate your time, yeah and right right before we start. I want to say thanks for putting out that article on the mavic 3 that looks real, interesting and i think its going to be able to change the way that a lot of us do our jobs and another tool we can add to our arsenal.
Yeah. Do you think that that new mavic 3 might be useful to roof inspections, as you did just film that roof inspection course and uh to piggyback that question i mean hey, the mavic 3 looks like it might be made for mapping. So maybe you can do your progression and your roof inspections all in one drone. You know, as whenever i can add an up charge or an upsell to something absolutely so. I am waiting with baited breath to see what actually transpires yeah. No, it is very exciting and thank you very much for saying that so tom, i know you are in one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. In fact, many of you might be familiar if youve taken your part 107 tests and the chances of you having a question regarding airspace and coeur dalene. Well, you might know this market and tom. I know youre in the boise, idaho market and theres a lot of construction going on a lot of people moving in from california, but you have been doing construction progression on these larger residential homes. So tell us about those those jobs and kind of whats involved yeah. So so, basically it all started one day: um just picked up a phone. Someone had reached out trying to get some pricing information, and you know i like to be a little vague on pricing. When someones calling me over the phone – and you know i try to get you know an actual meeting with them go over everything, you know show them a little bit of a portfolio what we have to offer, because i think showing them something visually is a great Way to actually build your relationship with them and get a you know, customer thats going to be more frequent than a one and done type thing so yeah.
So i got a call. He asked me if i could start shooting a house for him. I was like sure you know we dont, we dont shoot a lot of real estate. Videos well do commercial real estate. If we get called for it, but the residential stuff. You know there just didnt seem like there was a really big market for it, but uh. We started doing that. We came up with a price and really hes a gentleman who uh lives in california, hes, an architect, building a huge six thousand square foot house here up in our foothills um. He was having to fly in every two weeks to meet with all his subs all his contractors, everyone putting everything together and hes like you know, theres got to be a better way and he asked if i could start doing some progression photos for him, and i Was you know, i was really surprised that he kind of had an idea of that and he wanted ariel. Specifically, i asked him about it. You know ground stuff. If you wanted that, and he really didnt have any interest in ground photos his subs. Can you know text him whatever photos, he needs for the interior and stuff going up, but yeah we started shooting that for him and its been its been great. So it sounds like from this one job, though, as uh kind of we discussed in pre show that this particular job led to a lot of other recurring revenue, jobs and – and i agree with uh one of your previous statements – that you know getting those repeatable recurring Clients is just so important to uh to scale your business and focusing on getting those jobs, but in regards to this residential progression, this is not the only house that youre shooting is that right, thats correct, so it started with uh with one house, and i had Done that one for about you know two to three weeks or so just every week going doing you know the normal shots and we can kind of go over that later.
If you have some questions on that, but yeah i was out there flying doing it and you know theres its a pretty good sized subdivision, so theres homes going up all around one of the builders just saw what i was doing asked me about it told them What i was doing and then they ended up hiring me on the spot to start shooting. You know the other properties that they were building and most of them were. You know just down down the street, so i could set up all my flight plans. Click go and uh just watch the drone go, take the pictures and do all the orbits and all that kind of stuff and then sit back and send my invoice and collect to collect my fee. That is awesome. That is really awesome. So help us understand what are involved in these drone deliverables. I know you said progression shots and for many of you out there i think we could all say its safe to assume progression is typically, like you know, photos from various cardinal directions and whatnot, but help us understand whats included in these deliverables. So the deliverables are specific to you know, to each client or to each property depending on what they want, and we make sure to establish that beforehand. Um we lay that out in our contracts with them. Just so, you know everybodys protected, im, protected theyre protected, so everybodys getting what they want after we do that and we decide on the deliverables.
Some will just want. You know a simple orbit of the property, which is great easy enough to do. Some will want. You know d8 cardinal directions and an orbit. Some will just want a couple specific shots. You know from off the mesa looking back towards the mountains, just to see what their house is looking like, so its its been a really good mix. Ive had a few ask if we could do some some modeling of the houses and thats something that were looking at getting into and pursuing a little more in the future, but, like i said, yeah its a lot of people who are just from out of town. They cant physically get to the properties to see it and its a great way for them to document. You know when things are happening, is the site been graded? Has it been? Has the foundation been poured, are they framing? Yet walls up is the roof on and then in a lot of these larger nicer homes on the roofs theyre, actually putting all the mechanical on there. So youre able to verify you know, hvac is in or a lot of them are putting. You know. Generators like natural gas generators in there too, and all that kind of stuff and its just been really its been really interesting, seeing how it progresses and seeing how fast they can build. And you know its really, its really awesome being able to you know, send your deliverables to your client and you get a nice email back saying, hey thanks and then it really helps them keep their their subs accountable for whats going on.
I think thats thats really awesome. So let me ask you, with these photos and videos that youre taking it sounds like orbital, video and photos and whatnot. Do you use any special app to kind of save the missions that youve run to essentially be able to go back and just do the exact same flight plans yeah? So i use a lychee on the smart controller, um, fair warning to anybody who is going to do that. You can load it. You have to sideload it through amazon and you know if youre following 107 youve got the controller in your hand, all the time ready to go interrupt it. If you need to take control uh, it is buggy, but you know what isnt these days, but yeah base the first time we go shoot a property, we go walk. It first, look for any hazards, any obstacles that are that are going to be on it. Then we highlight you know what we want to shoot so set up time for each property is about. You know, 30 minutes on that initial initial encounter and then once we do that we figure what we want were going to go ahead and pre program. The orbits most of them want the cardinal direction so well go ahead and pre program that and get it framed up correctly and then we just click go and then its just. You know rinse and repeat for the rest of them. So, every following week, basically its you get, there make sure everythings, good double check your flight plan and click go and youre off and rocking thats awesome, thats, awesome! So uh.
Let me ask you this uh our. Do you think that there is like an upsell opportunity? Are you taking any extra media to produce like a hyper lapse over the course of construction? Do you do anything like that to try to get uh your clients to purchase them or to promote services to other potential clients? I do so. I uh i keep hard copies of everything i film um on my nas um. Its got a lot, a lot of content in there right now, um and ive. Let them all know all the clients know this. You know when this, when this project is completed, if you would like me to put together, you know a hyper lapse of the construction process. We can certainly do that um, so all of them are aware of it. In my contract, i do have a clause in there that says if they do want that video and they buy it. You know at the beginning of the project they get a pretty decent discount on it there so just another way to to upsell there, but even if they dont, i mean its still in the back of their mind and im, always you know when im talking to Them is always saying: hey, oh, we got these cool shots um. You know, as were orbiting your building or being your house. Oh, you can see the subs there like the people who are stacking um, all the rock on the side or, if theyre, building a pool.
So you can see them as theyre, actually constructing everything and see it see its starting to change. Thats awesome. That is awesome. Is there a particular drone that you like to use for these? Ah so my go to is usually the mavic 2 pro its got. A great sensor – and i i you cant – be the color palette on it, its so good for that kind of stuff. I wish the frame rates were a little little different, a little better on it um, but i mean here just do a fly in a smooth orbit. It shouldnt be jerky, so you shouldnt run into too many issues. I dont think, but i always carry the phantom 4 with me as well, just as a backup, if i need it or you know, when youre shooting stuff on mountains or in mountainous areas, it can be very windy. So sometimes the mavic 2 just isnt safe to fly so ill, pull out the phantom 4. and from what ive seen footage wise, i should be able to match everything up for those hyper lapses. For you know the week or two that i have to switch and switch drones, and you know unless its someone, like you, theyre, theyre, probably not going to know um well that i think this brings me to one final question. But i know that you uh, you have multiple of these homes that you are now shooting. How many of these jobs can you typically uh get done in an hour or two as many as theyll give me now i mean in about an hour id say i could probably shoot four to five pretty reasonably.
I mean thats thats, saying that theres, you know. No driving between sites, but i would say you know if you have to drive between sites, i would allocate about 10 to 15 minutes on site. Thats awesome, thats, thats super fast. Well, i know i said it was my last question, but ive got two more for you and one were gon na save for members, but when it comes to these projects and acquiring these jobs, what tips would you give for other drone pilots to acquire these kind Of luxury real estate progression jobs in your area. Well, so, im not going to give the tips for for my area because uh thats, thats thats mine, but no uh in general, i would say: look for the higher end housing developments that are going up if its a whole community look for a sales office. Go in and meet with the sales manager because a lot of them will say this is your lot. You buy it here. These are the 15 20 different options of homes. You can build, so you can go that route get in with the sales manager um. If its just you know a higher end community and everyones, you know buying their own land and bringing their own builder, or you know its a few builders in that area. Go take them out for coffee. Go hang around the job site start talking to some of the subs. You can certainly you know, especially when it gets cold out on peoples.
You know and businesses cooling off for people and the temperatures cooling down a lot of those guys who are out there framing building houses. They they create little bonfires on the property to stay warm, so you know, take uh, go stop by krispy kreme get a jug of coffee. Take that to him drop it off, get your name in look for the people who are driving the big fancy. Nice jacked up trucks, because those are the those are the guys who arent actually working but theyre the ones that are. You know in charge of the contracts and hiring people and so get your name out there um. Would you say that the higher the truck? Typically, the higher of a job title as well: oh, its a real tricky tricky spot to put be put in right there um. You know, i would say that its probably a probably pretty good argument, though um Laughter but yeah. No, i mean theres theres a ton of opportunity in it. Um then i mean you know like, like i taught in the roof inspection course youre. Looking at volume here, youre, not looking at you know one property, you need to give you know four or five. Six at a time um and its real, it really is doable with the amount of construction thats going on, especially in this part of the country and in other parts of the country i mean theres, a ton of opportunity just get out there make the calls dont Be scared to cold call people, and you know theres theres, so much work out there um yeah.
There really is what im hearing too? Is you just got ta hustle and you got ta know where to prioritize that hustle and and at the end of the day, its all built on relationships like weve, talked about so many times right. The krispy kreme opens up the door it does it does its its been a lot of fun and one of the things that im noticing um doing these progression photos um. I i really think its going to open up new verticals for our company um doing doing other stuff. The permanent record of installation is very important. Have a lot of people want to adjust for that, so they can track everything going in some want it. You know. So they can have their hyperlapse at the end or their progression photos, but i anticipate a lot of these, especially the luxury homes. At the very end, when this is wrapped up, they want you know an actual photo photo shoot of their home, because when im doing progression, photos its rinse and repeat, theres, no editing, you know if i shoot it as an aeb ill, merge them and thats about It maybe crop a tad but im not doing any post other than that no color corrections. No, nothing like that. So its great its easy it doesnt take hardly any time, but at the end of it i think you know well be able to get a nice little upsell saying hey its been a lot of fun, shooting your home over the past.
You know six months, seven months now lets show you what we can really do. Lets get you a big picture that you can hang in your house of your house as a conversation piece. Something like that. I like how you have kind of a client funnel like an entire client navigation, the progression into the actual media capture thats smart, i feel like a lot of pilots, could benefit from thinking about their jobs. Like that, i i think so, and you know i hear theres a new class coming out uh from you guys for uh on the business side showing how to automate stuff – and you know i think, thats going to be a really good, really good tool for me To add to my business – and i think everyone should take advantage of it if they can tom. In all honesty, i i think that we should uh give you a thank you as an instructor and have you come out to austin and attend that automation course, because you know when youre talking about sending emails out. You know once you got the client the initial contact. This automated system would email them what to expect how uh media will be delivered once you actually upload that media is autonomously delivered with autonomous reminders and even an autonomous upsell if they wanted to print any of those photos to dropship and get that done right away And then finish the client navigation by putting them kind of in your newsletter or in your quarterly or annual kind of engagement feeds.
I mean it really sounds like that course would even be beneficial to uh to this particular vertical. Oh, absolutely, absolutely i guess uh. I guess i dont have to hire an intern then to take care of all that stuff for me yeah. It definitely helps its a lot of a lot of up front work, but man, it saves you so much time so yeah its its definitely going to be a powerful course and were actually going to launch that on props, because it is one of these courses where It will fundamentally change your business itll, make everything easier, so you can focus on doing more jobs like these ones that youre talking about so uh. I think, as a thank you to you were going to have to have you come out to that class by the way for everyone that class is going to be online through the props program here in october, but the sale. The business scaling course is also the last two days of the experience training. The experience training is only open to eight pilots, but the business course is open to 20.. So if you want to join us for the experience class check it out, experience.thedroneyou.com you dont want to miss it uh tom. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show and before we let you go well, do a formal closure here, but for drone you members were going to have an extra segment of this podcast because were going to talk about what does tom actually charge for These jobs and how much does he bring in when he shoots five or six in a few hours? It might be something that truly surprises you and since we dont want to give away the farm to everyone tom.
I think that we should end it here and we can film our segment after we close, but thank you again so much for coming on the show. We do appreciate it, and i know other pilots appreciate the numerous pieces of advice that youve given and through your course. Well, thanks for having me its a lot of fun and i uh, i love being able to help out and just uh, be being involved in the community, its a blast, and thank you guys for everything that you do well tom. Thank you for uh everything that youve been doing in the community. You have been on fire in the new app and uh. I got ta say that new app is a lot more convenient but uh tom. Thank you again. If you guys want to learn more about tom tom whats, the best website you want to send them to you know no one. No one needs to learn about me. Uh go: go on the drone use site, take classes and better yourself create create a better product that you can give to your clients, thats uh thats. What id like to leave everyone with? Well, i, like that advice and if you want to check out toms roof inspection course, it is now available to drone you members and if you are a member youre hearing this podcast, we are going to post another uh segment to this in the app uh and In membership so make sure that you check it out if youre, not a member, you might want to become one.
As this information will single handedly pay for the membership, at least for one month, but thats going to do it for us today.