CB Richard Ellis' Mary Sharp on the Importance of Business Plans

Note: This is the seventh entry in our new weekly blog, "Beyond the Bio," where we ask MBQ Power Players to write a post of their choosing about their industry. This week, we have the third entry from our January/February Power Players category, Chief Operations Officers. Mary Sharp, COO of CB Richard Ellis, discusses why business plans are so crucial to have to fall back on in a time of crises. Last week, Lee Rone, COO of Youth Villages,  shared why youth are so important to the family unity and the community. Richard McDuffie, COO of Dunavant Logistics, discussed the impact of technology on businessCheck this space weekly for future installments of "Beyond the Bio."


The aftermath of Super Storm Sandy is certainly a time to be thankful for what we have but also a time to reassess the plans we have in place to deal with major business interruptions. At CBRE Memphis, it is not only our job to make sure our business operations continue despite natural disaster, but we must also be able to provide support to the tenants located in our managed properties.

If your place of business was destroyed, how would you pick up the pieces? Where would you work? How would you communicate? What is your plan? Most importantly, do you have a plan?

As COO, it is my responsibility to lead our team in the constant evaluation of our business continuity plan. Oftentimes a plan is overlooked altogether in small business, and the result can be detrimental to the health of a company when faced with tragedy.

At CBRE Memphis, we routinely check that we are adequately addressing the following questions:

  1. Do we have a clearly defined written plan?
    We make a point to outline every step of how we will stay in business and assign multiple employees to each task. We never know who will be available, and a plan that is too heavily dependent upon one person will only cause further headache.

  2. Is our plan up-to-date?
    We do our best to integrate the revision of our plan into the everyday operations of our business. As personnel changes, we adjust you plan accordingly. As we gain clients, we try to think proactively about the assistance they may need in the event of an emergency.

  3. Do we know our plan?
    Has our plan been effectively and regularly communicated to our entire staff? Each employee should be comfortable with the plan and know their role.

  4. Have we practiced our plan?
    Practice makes perfect. While we can never fully prepare for a natural disaster, glitches may be discovered during a rehearsal process.

Frequently revisiting these questions strengthens confidence in our ability to continue our business operations despite emergency interruption. We can’t control a natural disaster, but we can control how we react. A well-prepared plan can maintain a sense of calm so businesses can focus on helping their employees and clients pick up the pieces.


Power Player Bio: Mary Sharp

Chief Operating Officer, CB Richard Ellis Memphis, LLC. B.B.A. in Finance, University of Memphis; M.S. Business Administration/Concentration in Real Estate Development, University of Memphis. Oversees business operations and Asset Services division. Former adjunct faculty member, Fogelman College of Business and Economics, University of Memphis. Board Vice Chair, American Red Cross, Mid-South Chapter. President Elect, Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW), Memphis Chapter. Member, Building Owners and Managers Association International, Institute of Real Estate Management. Tenessee Real Estate License.

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