Alexander Orlov, Restaurateur and Co-founder of Bulldozer Group talks to us about taking a business global and striving for success in the F&B industry.
What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?
If I don’t have any travel plans which I often do, my morning starts with breakfast, jogging and cycling. After that I begin to work, often on my phone as I am on the go, I receive daily reports and analyze that data.
Can you talk us through your career?
I was always self-employed, so I didn’t have a career in a classical sense with vertical growth. I have been involved in the business since I was 18; I opened my first restaurant at the age of 27 and gradually, for 20 years, I’ve been ex- expanding my business in terms of the number of restaurants as well as the different locations. I now have over 50 restaurants in over six countries and there will be new openings across more cities in 2023 and 2024.
Your career as a restaurateur spans 20 years in multiple regions, what does it take to succeed in having a long-standing career in an ever-changing industry?
There are a few important elements of success in every business: ∙ There must be a certain level of business acumen, which of course can only be acquired from years of experience, but one can actively learn to think and act like a businessman or businesswoman.
∙ The need for self-improvement and development, and ultimately, success.
∙ Being flexible in terms of work and trying to find more efficient methods of working.
∙ One needs to be able to stay calm even if a mistake is made. You need to pay attention to these mistakes, because you will make them, and then lessons learned ultimately drive you forward to success.
What first inspired you to re-locate to this region?
It happened about 10 years ago when the UAE started to flourish and grow at an incredible pace. I realized then that it had great potential for prospective businesses due to the support for entrepreneurs and incredible leadership. It’s important to high- light here that the growth and development of the region is still ongoing now, and into the foreseeable future.
What inspired you to launch the Bulldozer Group and how did you know it was the right time?
I was inspired to call the company Bulldozer Group, because it’s an international word and everyone understands it in any language; it reflects the nature of our holding and sounds quite convincing. A bulldozer is a machine that moves forward despite any hindrances. That’s what our company does.
You have a large global portfolio of restaurants, what sets the UAE F&B scene apart from anywhere else in the world?
First, our guests in this region are very particular about the service and quality of everything. The UAE is famous for its high level of services, cuisine, design. There’s also tough competition in the market: the strong global brands set the benchmark. As a result, we are very diligent about any mistakes made; our guests and clients would certainly notice any flaws or loose ends, and that’s why we hold ourselves accountable.
You’re responsible for large teams, how do you keep your teams inspired and motivated?
I believe our teams take some inspiration from my experience, I’m always aware of the trends in the market, the status of all projects, and make sure to stay on top of it all and make sure to update our teams. I also travel a lot, share new ideas, inspiration, and concepts with my teams. Finally, I try to give our team opportunities to grow, asking them to join on trips that can unleash their creativity and inspire them to come up with new ideas.
What would you say is the key to success when it comes to building and maintaining a successful business?
There are so many factors to consider: intuition, timing, luck, being at the right place at the right time, which of course is more likely to happen with consistency and trial and error. All puzzle pieces that come together eventually.
What are the hurdles you’ve experienced throughout your career and how did you overcome them?
To be transparent, there are always a lot of obstacles in business; however, the main obstacle is finding the right talent. We need highly driven and passionate individuals, we try to approach the best profiles, offer training, and eventually hone their skills and careers.
How do you find the balance between business and personal life?
My business is my passion, and therefore my hobby as well. Of course, I can’t expect the people close to me to operate around my schedule, so I make sure to manage my time so that I have a space to spend time with them.
What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out and building their own business?
My main advice would be to take a risk. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
What are the next plans for growth and how do you maintain quality when scaling?
We have a great number of projects in Dubai, both ongoing and future ones. In 2023 we are planning to open a few more restaurants, so it’s all about the talent again. We are looking for people who can multitask and take responsibility. One of the key difficulties in an actively growing business is the team. I’ve been there so many times, and now what we do is write down the strategy, and expand and correct the current structure which will be applicable and functional for businesses of a greater scale.
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