I am very excited to announce the next step in the evolution of the FloorPlanOnline service offering with our new “go to market” strategy called the FloorPlanOnline Area Manager (“FAM”) program. Photographers, please read more about the program here. http://floorplanonline.com/for-photographers/
In the past, we have contracted with local photographers who would accept jobs and have little engagement or incentive to expand the market beyond them accepting a job. They would leave all the sales and marketing to FloorPlanOnline. The problem is, real estate is a local business, and having local sales people means less money can go to the person doing the actual work and engaging with the customer on a weekly basis. With our new FAM program, we are taking a different approach in how we work with local photographers to help them build their business on top of our platform and our brand. While we continue to do top level marketing such as national tradeshows and vendor programs, the billing and even the centralized technical customer support, we are looking to the local FAM to do the local sales and service work. In exchange, the local FAM has an opportunity to make much more money and build their own business leveraging a national company, but on a local basis. This creates a win-win-win for both FloorPlanOnline, the local provider, and our joint customers because the customer gets a person engaged in, incentivized by and tie to that local business! Churn in the photographer base is greatly reduced and customer satisfaction is greatly increased!
We know many of our competitors churn through various photographers very quickly. This creates service issues, potential distrust and a costly retrain each time. In contrast, we have had people working for us for 12 years! With the FAM program, we are looking to build lifetime relationships with the local provider and our customers.
We need your help. If you know of a photographer, appraiser or other highly motivated person that has a passion for real estate, we would love to talk to them about being a FAM! You can direct them to our Photographer page to get started!
Here is a great post I saw today of what Millennials want out of the real estate process. Why should you care? Zillow says they make up 55% of buyers!
An Open Letter from Millennials to the Real Estate Industry
Let me summarize it.
- They want to use technology to simplify things, like electronic documents and file sharing.
- They want to screen properties BEFORE they ever visit them. This means lots of photos, aerial images, virtual tours and we think floor plans to help people visualize how their family can live in the property, not how the seller currently is living in it. Lots of research out there that says 70% to 90% of buyers want to see floor plans when they search. Leverage this and market it at the listing appointment to get the listing every time!
- Be the expert on the process and help people understand it.
- Be creative.
Great advice. We can help.
Drone photo and video footage can add some cool and interesting views to real estate listings. But to create them for real estate purposes, which is considered a commercial use, the person controlling the drone (the “Pilot in Command”) must be legal, which means they should have an FAA issued Remove Pilot certificate. Failure to do so can mean fines as well as possible jail time. To get a certificate, you must pass the remote pilot knowledge test, which asks questions about airspace, weather, who qualifies, airport operations, emergency procedures and preflight/flight procedures, to name a few.
I just passed my test to get my remote pilot certificate, so I thought I would pass along my experience if you are interested. I will say, I think it is a good idea that people have to go through this whole process, and in fact, I would almost suggest a hobbyist have to go though it as well, given the consequences of someone doing something stupid with another plane in the sky….but that is for another day. I did learn a lot and have a good appreciation for why there is a need for this process.
Studying. I started to read some different documents (like the Pilots Handbook), but could barely keep myself awake. So I finally broke down and bought access to a video tutorial site. I used these guys. http://remotepilot101.com Jason does a great job going through the material and emphasizing what is important and what is likely to be on the test. It is $99 and well worth it because you will need to retake the test every 2 years and your initial purchase covers you for future years. After each section there are sample questions, that look very similar to the real test questions. There is a final exam at the end as well. Here is my drone tutorial I created. But to get the full effect you need to buy the video course and then you can understand what these are all about.
This is all I did. I would suggest reading at least the summary to the Part 107 rules & regulations. There are a few questions about eligibility. Here are some helpful resources:
Taking the test. You need to go to an official testing station to take the computer test.
- Need to schedule the test first. There is a list of testing centers below but I was told you have to call PSI to schedule it. 800-211-2754 – It costs $150. They also said you need to be a member of www.aopa.org and you get $10 off if you are member too. I signed up for the free student membership. see the test centers here
- The Test. It was pretty much like the sample questions in the RemotePilot101. They had some images as part of the questions. Note…I was provided a test supplement, but I thought it was really more for a real pilot’s test as the lady also gave me some other measuring tools and she did not mention that the images ARE IN THE BOOK…so I did not even use it…but the images in the test questions ARE in the book, and this makes answering the questions a lot easier, as I could not really read some of the details on the computer. So, while I did pass, I probably would have gotten at least 3 or 4 questions right had I just looked in the book! It took me about 45 minutes. I answered most questions, I flagged a few and then went back through each question using the 1990’s style navigation…so you do have an opportunity to go revisit any question again. When you are done, close out and the testing person gets your results, and then prints your certificate if you pass!
Getting the Remote Pilot License. Register and then go through the process here iacra.faa.gov. Note – you need the Knowledge Test ID and this is not available until 48 hours after your test…I guess someone needs to put in a punch card or something into the old government computers…
I finalized my application at iacra.faa.gov. The process was a little clunky, but it found my test and you digitally sign the documents. So, I believe at this point I am an official Drone Pilot! Not that I will be doing a lot, but given I run the company I thought it would be good to have the knowledge and capability…and hey, I have to admit, it is fun (except when there is a fly away…which I did experience playing around at Weatherby Lake). Remember the return to home button.
After a few days you can log back in and print off your temporary certificate! You do not need to wait to fly to get yours in the mail.
One last thing I thought was funny. One of the test questions involved my home town in Iowa – Onawa. Population 3000. What are the odds of that??? I thought it was destiny that I should become a Drone Pilot, aka DronebyCone.
Getting a Drone. I have looked at various ones. I like the Phantom 3 Advanced. It has a lot of good features with 2.7k video and 12 mp photos, and the key- a gimbal for the camera. There is another version with 4K but I think for now that might be overkill. The Phantom 4 is cool but not sure I need to spend that much for all of the other advanced stuff…maybe if you are flying indoors, it would be good to have as it does have avoidance sensors. DJI also just came out with a smaller one this week, the Mavic..has collision sensors too.
Insurance. To work with FloorPlanOnline, you need insurance. I would imagine the larger brokerages will require some kind of coverage as well. I am investigating options, including a possibility to have an overall umbrella policy to cover all activities within our network. I was told this group www.modelaircraft.org comes with $2.5 million of liability insurance, but when you look at the details, it DOES NOT cover business pursuits. So investigating other options. I found an app called Verifly where you can buy insurance on demand for $10 for 1 hour within 1/2 mile radius of your flight. So this might be a good option starting out. I have read some other posts that insurance can run $800 to $1000 per year and one of our providers mentioned a renewal bill for $1500! So, price accordingly! Your break even on number of jobs at $10 each for insurance is 120 or so…
Preflight Checklist. As I am helping out as the PIC before our Seattle provider Christine gets certified, my first job was to be today. Well, like a good certified PIC, I first checked the airspace, and low and behold, the area I was going to shoot in is a class D space that is controlled from the ground to 2500 feet! So, I had to refresh myself on the process AND get approval from the Renton ATC. Note…the new process is you have to submit an airspace authorization through the FAA’s website. There is a small UAV button on the main page that takes you to this form https://www.faa.gov/uas/request_waiver/ you have to fill out IF you need airspace authorization. So I thought I would just include this in a checklist that could be used every time. See my Checklist. Feel free to print it out or request a copy.
If the first item comes back you will be in a class G, then you can stop and go shoot after checking the Notams/weather, but otherwise, you need to get clearance. It turns out a lot of high priced property (like all of Mercer Island, WA) is included in Class D airspace in the Seattle area as you can see. The dashed blue line means Class D airspace and the  means it is from the surface to 2500 feet. So to fly in these areas you must get clearance to be legal. It is a good idea to go to Skyvector and just look around the areas you normally will serve to get a feel for what kind of airspace you will be dealing with. If we do a lot of Mercer Island stuff, it will become a pain in the butt fast having to call every time…and the 90 days in advance thing does not fly with real estate, so warn your clients of the possibility of reshoots! But hey…we are being legal and I know I do not look good in an orange jump suit.
That is about it. I think there is lots of opportunity to provide some cool aerial images, videos and even expand the services of what we do and who we work with. So get going, start studying and get your remote pilot license!
Drone Pilot, FloorPlanOnline jack of all trades.
We are very excited and honored to be part of a group of companies selected to REach® Real Estate accelerator’s class of 2016 by the National Association of REALTORS® (“NAR”), the largest trade association in North America. The REach® program is run by Second Century Ventures (“SCV”), the technology fund and strategic arm of NAR. The goal of the program is to help companies refine their product, strategy and process and to accelerate the exposure across the more than 1 million REALTORS® in the United States.
After a detailed selection process that included more than 200 company applications, HomeDiary, powered by FloorPlanOnline, was one of 8 companies chosen for bringing it’s 2D & 3D floor plan virtualization platform and digital recordkeeping tools to any home. You can read NAR’s press release here. Through the FloorPlanOnline platform, REALTORS® have been able to differentiate their listings and themselves by focusing on the top 2 things buyers want to see – big HD photos and interactive floor plans. Through a sponsored HomeDiary, REALTORS® will now be able to stay in touch with their clients in a relevant way for years to come as the homeowner manages their home.
“HomeDiary is bringing HGTV-like 3D tools to any homeowner, making it simpler to create a 2D and 3D floor plan for a room or a whole house,” said Alex Lange, operating partner of SCV. “We are excited to introduce HomeDiary to more than a million NAR members while providing the company with access to experts and influencers in the real estate industry to help accelerate their already-amazing toolsets.”
“Over the course of the next few months HomeDiary will be refining the go to market strategy and product options for the Closing Gift, a new product that will bring 3D floor plans to any newly purchased home,” said Kris Cone, CEO of FloorPlanOnline & HomeDiary. “Our focus is to make it easy and cost effective to get a 3D floor plan for any home, starting at free! We will also be leveraging our FloorPlanOnline infrastructure to be able to visit virtually any home throughout the US to create a floor plan, complete with our drag and drop RoomPlanner tool, as well as other tools to enable homeowners to document and manage their home.”
Homeowners can get started for free at HomeDiary.com. Options for REALTORS® will be coming soon, so stay tuned!