Which Towel Service Option Is Right For Your Fitness Business?

If you're charging higher membership fees and offering services like personal training (which is generally a big profit center), it's a good idea to offer towel service. 

After all, towels are a big convenience, and providing those perks helps sell your higher-end services so you can build that profit center. 

Ready to dive into your towel service options? Let's get into the details.

Paying For Towel Drop Off Service


    • Convenience: this is the easiest option and requires no extra staffing
      • Client retention: making it easier for clients to work out improves client retention 
        • Potential profits: you can profit by adding a towel service fee to membership dues 


          • Expense: It costs a lot! Expect to pay a substantial weekly bill.
            • Customer abuse: Some clients forget to return the towels; some take three towels instead of one.

            Your expense shrinks relative to your profits as your membership base grows, and you can offset your costs by adding a service charge.

                • $15 a month seems to be an average added to membership for those who charge 
                • Charge per towel: $1-$2 dollars per use

                DIY Towel Service


                • Savings: You can save a lot of money in the long run
                • Employee driven: Front desk employees can launder and fold during slower hours


                • Up front costs: Expect to dish out a couple grand, maybe more if you need to add proper plumbing
                • Time and effort: If you don't have enough staff, you may not have time for DIY towel service  
                • Hidden costs: expenses like equipment maintenance, detergent, utilities, etc. are often overlooked

                No Towel Service


                • One less thing to worry about! People can bring their own
                • It's cheaper: you'll have fewer bills to pay at the end of the month 


                • Lower levels of service: members have to remember to bring their own  
                • Increased expenses: clients will use more of your paper towels
                • Extra cleaning: if you don't provide towels, people are less likely to clean the machines they use

                What does the actual cost look like? 

                Let's assume we're looking at a facility that uses 50 pounds of towels/day. 

                Full Service Towels Costs 

                • Per pound cost: around $2.95 for wash, dry, and fold 
                • Pick up/drop off twice a week 50 pounds of towels/day = $147/day x 7 days/week = $1029/week
                • Total annual towel expense for full service = $53,508 
                • Bottom line: it's as expensive as hiring a full time employee, but it's super easy. 

                DIY Towel Service For A Smaller Facility 

                • Stackable washer and dryer set: $1800 Detergent: $100 annually ($14/bottle, 6 bottles/year)
                • Utilities: $1800 annually for electricity and water ($150/month) 
                • Labor: $4,368 annually (1 hour/day, 7 days/week, $12/hour) 
                • Towels: $270 annually (6 dozen midrange towels, $45 per dozen) 
                • Replacements: $80 annual budget for shrinkage  
                • Total annual investment for DIY towel service = $7,138 
                • Bottom line: it takes more time and upfront investments, but it saves over $46,000/year 

                My recommendation: if you are selling more personalized service, at the very least I would offer hand/sweat towels and wash them yourself. 

                Why? It's proven that providing towels for customers plays a small, but important role for the customers you serve. 

                When you provide extra services that help clients achieve their goals, you're ultimately improving client outcomes, which generates referrals and feeds your own success. 

                I hope that with all these variables at your fingertips, it will be easier to decide which option is best for your fitness business.

                Don't miss the other blog posts in this series:

                              There's more than meets the eye to choosing the right towel service...and the same goes for other fitness business operations. 

                              If you don't plan properly, it's easy to fall into the category of gyms that are here today and gone tomorrow. 

                              Want tips to make sure that doesn't happen to you? Grab our guide to Breaking The Cycle Of Gym Closures for the essential tips you need for long-term success.