Pros And Cons Of Four Air Filter Purchasing Strategies

air-filtersPurchasing Air Filters - Weighing the pros and cons of four strategies


Two words HVAC contractors live by: streamline and save. As an HVAC contractor, you are always looking for ways to optimize your process and save money on supplies. There are several different strategies that you can use to reduce costs and improve efficiencies. The best choice is not necessarily just looking for the absolute lowest sticker price for air filters. Here are four common strategies that contractors use for purchasing air filters, and the pros and cons of each to help you streamline your process and achieve cost savings.

Option 1: Bulk buy and store air filters

The first option for getting the best price on air filters is probably the most obvious: Buy them in bulk and store them for your maintenance technicians to use when they go out to make replacements.

The advantage of this strategy is that you can get great pricing on your air filters by taking advantage of bulk buying deals. This is very advantageous during these inflationary times being caused by COVID supply chain issues. As an example, MERV 13 filters have not only been in short supply, but prices have increased dramatically.

However, there are some drawbacks to bulk purchasing air filters:

  • Storage costs: You have to pay for the warehouse space to store all the air filters you buy. Air filters are not heavy, but they are large, and bulk buying can require a lot of storage space.
  • Inventory management: Air filters come in a wide range of sizes. To meet the needs of all your clients, you will need to purchase and store air filters in every size. You also need enough of them in stock to replace dozens of filters in large buildings.
  • Tine and overhead: You will need to hire a warehouse manager. They will go through your storage facilities and pull the necessary filters for each job. This cost can quickly add up when you factor in salary, benefits, insurance, and payroll taxes.

This option can work for some contractors, but it will not be a cost-effective solution for everyone. One way to make this option more cost-effective is to get the absolute best prices on your air filters. The Raiven browser extension makes it easy to get the best bulk pricing on air filters and other supplies.

Option 2: Bag and tag

The second strategy for purchasing air filters is bag and tag. Rather than storing all those air filters in your own facilities and paying your own employees to retrieve them for technicians going out on each job, you pay a third party for those duties. Your team orders all the air filters you need for an upcoming job. Then the suppliers will pull those from their own warehouse and either ship them to your job site or have them available for one of your maintenance technicians to pick up.

The advantage of this option is that you save a lot of time and logistics spending. You do not need space to store the filters or employees to pull them for a job.

The disadvantage is the cost. You will not get the cheapest prices like with bulk buying. Instead, you will pay a premium of around 25% for someone to do it for you. Depending on the size of your HVAC contractor business, that might be a worthwhile price to pay to avoid dealing with storage and management.

Option 3: Fully outsourced purchase and maintenance

For most HVAC contractors, air filter maintenance is not a job with high gross margins, and it does not require highly skilled employees. However, you want to provide maintenance services to maintain your relationship with clients and ensure that when they do need more advanced HVAC work done, they will call you.

Some HVAC contractors choose to outsource the whole maintenance process. They purchase filters from the supplier, who pulls the right filters and delivers them to an outsourced technician, who then replaces all the air filters in a building.

The advantage of this option is that you do not need to worry about any part of the maintenance process. Your clients will get their regularly scheduled maintenance as promised, and your team can focus on other jobs.

The disadvantage, similar to bag and tag services, is the cost. You will pay a premium for the air filters and pay for someone to install them. In addition, dealing with subcontractors is its own art, and some HVAC businesses are better set up to handle it than others.

Option 4: Direct-to-manufacturer purchasing

The final option is one that only a few contractors can do because of their size and supplier relationships: purchasing air filters directly from the manufacturer. This strategy works well, if your company buys a lot of air filters. The advantage is that you will get the best price and get the items shipped directly to you or the job site.

Unfortunately, this is not an option for most small and medium-size HVAC contractors. They simply do not have the volume to negotiate the prices that a larger company could get. Fortunately, there are purchasing programs like Raiven Marketplace that can help you get discounted prices based on their $250+ million in aggregated buying power. This enables you to receive discounts like much bigger companies.

Choosing the right strategy for purchasing air filters

The best air filter purchasing strategy for your HVAC contractor business depends on your specific situation. For some contractors, it may even be a hybrid of these options. Having the right tools at your disposal can help you streamline air filter purchasing for HVAC maintenance and get the best prices from multiple pre-vetted suppliers.

To learn more about how Raiven can help you, contact us today.