in the beginning, i did not charge a screen fee at all, because all of my local competition was.
then i realized... people shopping around, are already hearing screen fees from everyone else anyway.
my all inclusive price was lower than my competition, however, customers were not comparing apples to apples. they were looking at my per piece price, and my competitors per piece, and deciding the other guy was lower. without realizing the other guy would have 30-90 in screen fees.
so, to put ourselves in the same boat, we started charging screen fees. i was charging 25 for screen fee. per screen, per color. so we were 5 lower than everyone else (or more)
however, i use it as a value added service.
i sales pitch my customers that print front and back, and tell them that i can do both on one screen and save them 25 bucks. that shows them i am more interested in them and their savings, than i am about the 25 in my pocket.
or, whenever possible, if someone is looking at a lower quantity, i make sure they know that orders of 50pcs have the screen fee waived. whether its one or three colors. i waive it for orders over 50 pieces.
helps me get more larger orders. makes the customer feel they just saved anywhere from 25 to 75 dollars depending on color count.
in the end... rarely do i end up charging for a screen fee, because i pitch them on the high count. those that go for lower numbers, they are fine with the screen fee, because it's cheaper than anyone else s.
or, i'll continue to use it as an incentive, and offer to reduce the screen fee to 15 if they are doing lower count shirts.. etc..
it's all a sales game..
as for saving screens...
i generally tell my customers that i save their screens for two weeks in case they need to order more... this helps get sales after the sales, because i do not charge a setup or screen fee.
when i am ready to reclaim the screens, i make a call to them as a courtesy and tell them i'm about to wipe them out and wanted to make sure they didn't need more first.... you would be amazed at how many sales that gets, from people that weren't even in need of more. but because i called, it made them think about it.
i have a customer that orders 50 shirts every week. literally every week. now granted, because she orders 50pcs, i waive her screen fees anyway. but i sold her on paying for a screen storage fee.
i told her i would keep her screens on file, so that even if she ordered only 10 or 15 shirts, she wouldn't have a screen fee because it would be already sitting here ready to go.
she has 4 different designs. i offered to create an store her designs for 40 each.
i only pay 30 for my screens.
so that made me 10 each right up front.
but, more importantly...
i actually do keep her screens..
so... i never have to reclaim or re-burn the design every week. and i don't even have to clean out the ink since its always the same color. when i finish printing, i pull the screens off the press, an put them in the rack. with the ink still on it. next week, i'll be pulling it out and using it again.
i save a ton of time. no cleaning no reclaiming no degreasing no re-coating no burning no washing out no blocking out.