“Our business is about technology, yes. But it’s also about operations and customer relationships.” Michael Dell, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies
In the early 90s, Brian Bratchie was among the first to receive the Novell Certified Network Engineer (CNE) certification. Novell’s highest credential for network professionals, it is the global standard for servicing and supporting smart global networks.
Since then, he never looked back. After initially building computers and servers, Brian entered the networking space and was brought into top-five accounting firm Arthur Andersen’s New York City office to support a 100-user network. His solid performance earned him a prestigious promotion, and he became a part of the elite IT dream team of Arthur Andersen in New York City.
Gaining a reputation for exceeding expectations, he was recruited by the leading, global diversified media, information, and services company, The Hearst Book Group, to step into an IT managerial role. There he managed a staff of three while continuing to work in a hands-on capacity supporting hundreds of users.
Continuing to be in demand at the largest companies in the world, he landed at HarperCollins Publishers, one of the Big Five English-language publishing companies where he managed a much larger operation than he had at Hearst.
After leaving HarperCollins to pursue other opportunities, Brian noticed that clients continually sought his advice, taking his recommendations over sales reps.
“Clients kept asking me how to solve their problems,” Brian said. “I began selling them the products and services they needed to achieve what they wanted to do. I get satisfaction from solving problems and like the challenge of it, so I was more than happy to help.”
But one thing Brian didn’t like was that, while he was doing the bulk of the selling, the sales reps were earning more money. So, in 1997, Brian started consulting on the side, establishing B & L PC Solutions, Inc.
“I’m not a salesperson,” Brian said. “But I understand better than a salesperson what clients require, because, unlike a salesperson, I have knowledge and experience on the tech side. I felt if I was just myself, I could have conversations, build relationships and deliver what clients needed while continuing to provide the best quality IT service possible on my own.”
How B & L’s Teamwork Approach Is Raising The Bar
One of his first clients as a consultant was the American multinational investment bank and financial services holding company JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the U.S. and the 7th largest in the world. It was there he proved that his theory was correct. Taking control of the situation, he led an IT team supporting the trading floor for international equities, creating one of the best IT teams in the world.
With extensive experience working at the highest levels, it was easy for Brian to engage in real conversations with prospective clients. Brian made it a habit of discussing not only what they wanted to achieve, he asked how they felt their IT service was going, and where they felt there could be improvement. In doing so, he was able to help clients continually achieve goals and grow while also protecting their data and preventing downtime. (Brian believes in 100% accountability and continues this process to this day, checking in with EVERY client, every quarter.)
This experience led to another core value that he’s incorporated into his company—the value of teamwork.
“I believe that team settings heighten innovation,” Brian said. “I’ve found that working in teams allows employees to bring their best and found that we thrive on employee contribution.”
The Importance of Security In The Age Of Escalating Cybercrime
Today he continues to serve the financial community, providing a full suite of IT services to CPAs on Long Island, New York City, and even in the Hamptons. While he can’t reveal most of his client’s identities for security purposes, clients continue to seek him out, including celebrities and high-profile clients.
Recently, B & L was brought in to help a Long Island Police Department after a cyberattack. “They called after they were hit by a ransomware attack,” Brian said. “It’s a serious problem. People are paying tens of thousands of dollars to these cybercriminals. Fortunately, the police department called us quickly, and we were able to recover all of their data in under two hours because of the technology we already had in place for them.”
B & L provides dark web monitoring, security awareness training, and a complete outsourced Security Operation Center (SOC) solution for clients. “We cover it all,” Brian said. “A lot of our CPA and financial clients, they’re being forced to create cybersecurity policies. Clients are relieved that they can turn to us to get this process done for them – especially since there are mandates coming for clients registered with the SEC that must have these policies in place.”
Why CPAs & Financial Companies Want An IT Company That Caters To Them Specifically
A true testament to the stellar relationship he builds with clients is they do not leave. “We have clients that have been with us from day one,” Brian said. “I’m proud that we’ve never lost a client. The only clients no longer with us are clients bought by another company, have relocated or that closed their business. We’ve seen clients through growth, hard times, and everything in between. It goes beyond the business-client relationship. We are a cohesive team. These people know me, and I know them and their families.”
Brian built his business by catering to the size and needs of his clients. He keeps them by staying true to his core values, staying at the top of his game, and through innovation. The combination has helped him continue to grow the company between 15% and 20% year over year.
One only must look at B & L’s raving testimonials and reviews to confirm that their IT support and service for CPAs and financial institutions with 15 to over 100 users is unmatched in the industry. Part of the reason for this unrivaled service is Brian’s creative approach to the special requirements these clients have. For example, he’s built a team of in-house engineers specific to the accounting and financial industry who are experts in handling tax and payroll updates for ALL accounting platforms found on the market. “We handle ProSystems, CCH, Thomson Reuters… ALL platforms,” Brian said. “You have to know how to update and work on that software to be able to support it. We handle all these products and services directly. We do all the updates and support it ourselves and do not outsource anything,”
Brian also creates custom packages for these clients. “We tailor our service offerings to CPA firms,” Brian explained. “During their busy season, they require around the clock service 24/7, which obviously requires more support. When their busy season is over, we lower their rates. When a new client comes to us, they express that they’ve never heard of that and they absolutely love it. I just felt that if they don’t require us to be available 24/7 in their offseason, why should they be charged for that?”
The bottom line for Brian is the relationship with his clients. “I’ve always been a tech guy and I get tremendous satisfaction from solving people’s problems,” Brian said. “However, I want to be involved in my client’s business and become more than a partner. Because the most important thing to me is that I have a great relationship with my clients and that they know they can count on me for anything.”