Brad Litz | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Brad Litz


Brad Litz has been president and CEO of family-owned Litz Real Estate of Indianapolis since 2011. Litz served as vice president of Litz from 2006-2011. Prior to that, he was principal of Applied Appraisal Group, Inc., in Chicago from 2004 to 2007 and a commercial appraiser at Urban Real Estate Research in Chicago from 2000-2004.

The Mistake:

I realized I’m just not a franchise guy.

After moving back to Indianapolis in 2006, everything was great for a while. As the market started to go through some issues, we decided to buy into a franchise.

The allure was that it was a popular brand, a successful brand. It still is. I was really impressed with their marketing and what they had done in other cities around the world. I felt it stepped up our game a bit.

We were thrust into a world we were not familiar with. We went from 10 employees to four partners and 35 employees. We had prided ourselves on trying to stay ahead of the curve. In 2008, everybody was scrambling to stay in the real estate business. I thought it was the best thing at the time to stay ahead of the next guy.

I’m not suited to do a lot of other things. I’m a real estate developer, broker and appraiser. The allure was getting to stay in the business when nobody knew how long it would take to get back to where it needed to be.

The partnership didn’t work out. There was nothing negative. It was a long ordeal to finalize and get a buyout. All the way through I realized I’m just not a franchise guy.

I wanted to have a familiar brand, be a boutique Indianapolis company. Everybody had different thoughts about getting through the recession. I thought a big luxury brand would propel us forward.

Two years in I realized I’m not really a corporate guy. I’ve always been in the small and family business world. I had to begin rebranding the company and go back to our roots to settle us in to where we needed to be and where we are today.

I realized I’m not really a corporate guy.

The Lesson:

The brand we invested in was a very high-end brand. They had great marketing, digital strategy and insight into what was coming. I learned a lot from that perspective, how the inner-workings of high-level marketing and bringing it to force work. But it wasn’t applicable to our business.

My ultimate goal was to get back into real estate development. My dad was a real estate developer. My mom was always a Realtor. Really, the ultimate goal was to get back to being a full-scale company with the real estate brokerage and real estate services we offer. It really opened my eyes up to what I wanted to do.

It ended up being a great lesson. I was in my early 30s at the time. I’m 40 now. I’ve gone through a lot. I sold several companies. I’ve lived a few different real estate lives in my 18-year career.

It helped prepare me for the future. I’m 40, but I have a long career in Indianapolis. It culminated in a very good learning experience at a young age.

One of the good things coming out of it was going through the rebranding process, hiring our own marketing firm, and digging into what the brand and company culture mean and what growth looks like in the future.

It culminated in the brand name of Litz. People feel we have been around for years. It’s nice to know it stuck and people feel we are part of the community. We achieved the goal of being an Indianapolis boutique in real estate. That’s probably the biggest thing that came out of it.


Follow Brad Litz on Twitter at @Bradlitz.

Pictured is Brad Litz. | Photo courtesy of Litz Real Estate.