A Comprehensive Checklist for Building a New Facility

Everyone has a dream job. For many martial arts and MMA enthusiasts, that dream is to open and run their own successful facility. It’s a great dream, but it’s also one that requires more than simply training others in what you know. Running a facility is not just about training, it’s also about running a business. To help you get started, we have pieced together a comprehensive (but not exhaustive) checklist of what you need to know before opening your first facility.

Keep in mind this is general information, and is not intended as legal or professional business advice.

Site Selection

The old adage of “location, location, location” is as true as ever. While we can’t tell you where to specifically place your facility, there are a few things to consider:

  • Balance population density and rent: keep in mind that more densely populated areas generally have higher rents, but more available students.
  • Space: know how much space you will need for your facility and find a place that is slightly larger. That way, you can grow into the space without having to remodel or move shortly after opening.
  • Know your potential students: where do they live? What places do they frequent? Where do they hang out? These are all prime places to build a facility.

Legal and Insurance

It’s boring, complicated and can be expensive, but these are the building blocks of any business. First, you need to decide what type of business entity you will found:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Company, LLC

These are just a few of the options. It’s in your best interest to find a business lawyer in your area who can help you get set up. Make sure to also gather information from your local city, chamber of commerce and state so that you understand the laws regarding businesses in your area.

Finally, it’s also in your best interest to secure commercial and property insurance to protect your facility, your students, yourself and your business.


Know what you are good at, need help with and can afford to pay someone else to do. This is how you will put together a team that will help you run your business. Maybe you know nothing about accounting and don’t even want to be bothered by it. If that’s the case, bring someone on board who specializes in that area. Build a small team with the money you have and your business will be off to a much better start.

Business Software

Thanks to the modern age, businesses now have more software to help them run their operations than ever. Here are a types of software that facility owners should be interested in researching:

  • Bookkeeping and accounting software (i.e. QuickBooks, etc.)
  • Scheduling software
  • Customer relations management (CRM)

There are even pieces of software that are specifically designed for MMA and martial arts facility management (Kicksite is a Zebra partner who provides this type of management software). We highly recommend checking some of these out because they can help you keep track of your students’ contact information, memberships, class schedules, etc.

Marketing and Promotion

Before you open your business, have in place a plan for marketing and promotion. This will allow you to hit the ground running and immediately start gaining traction with potential students. Some things you should have in place before you open are:

  • A facility website
  • A social media presence
  • Competitor research (see how others in your area are marketing their business)

It’s also a good idea to start networking with as many people in your area as you can. The more people you know, the more word of mouth will be spread about your business.

Facility Layout & Product Selection

Not surprisingly, this is Zebra’s specialty! We can help you with everything from facility layout to choosing the right martial arts mats based on your discipline. No matter what you need, Zebra is here to help. Visit our online shop to learn more about our products or get in touch with our team to ask us any questions.