Croatia Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public Holidays

Introduction

In Croatia, normal business practices do not differ in any way from standard Southern European (Balkan) business practices. Similar to other southern European countries, the external impression plays a significant role (appearance, branded clothes, car, expensive watch), an informal meeting environment can be more effective (restaurant), punctuality is not a dogma (10-15 min. delay is tolerated). It can be said that the more southerly the business negotiations take place in Croatia, the more pronounced the above-mentioned aspects are.

Addressing

Suitable contacts for potential business partners can best be searched through paid local or even global databases. Free databases usually offer out-of-date and incomplete data. Relying only on the classic Google portal and searching using keywords is also not recommended, because sometimes companies on the web look very serious thanks to a good site design, but they can be either defunct companies or small companies with no business experience and / or companies that they are not financially sound. Either the commercial section of the Czech Embassy in Zagreb can help you find/recommend a suitable partner if the partner you are looking for is from the state sector (institution or company), or the PaulTrade Zagreb foreign office if the potential partner is an organization or company from the private sector. The embassy and the PaulTrade Zagreb agency have access to databases in which they can check the economic and financial status of Croatian companies and their history. Selected companies can be contacted by phone, materials can be sent by e-mail and then again by phone to verify interest in the product, service, cooperation or meeting. Due to the currently partially functioning anti-pandemic measures, this process can be more complicated, several companies still operate in a certain limited mode, the Home Office and contacting key workers is often complicated and lengthy (even though all restrictive measures in Croatia were officially already lifted in March tr). Even under normal circumstances, Croatian companies react rather clumsily and not in time to e-mail addresses, and it is necessary to repeat the contact several times politely and with an overview, using several channels.

Business meeting

It is customary to propose the first business meeting by e-mail and then confirm by phone, with the company proposing two or more dates and letting the Croatian partner choose a suitable date. It is common for the first meeting to take place at the Croatian partner’s headquarters during business hours (9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.), subsequent meetings may be in a less formal setting. At the first meeting, business cards are exchanged and it is possible to hand over small gifts or company souvenirs (a bottle of wine, a company USB with presentations, a company diary or calendar). The business should request a meeting two to six weeks in advance, depending on the level of the meeting. If you aim to run a company, you need to apply more in advance. Croats tend to be very good negotiators and are usually well prepared for negotiations. It is therefore important to come to the meeting with detailed knowledge of the offered product/service and it is also important to have at least a basic overview of this segment in Croatia. Croatian partners often ask very professional questions to which they expect a professional answer. Negotiations with Croatian companies are otherwise very similar in many respects to negotiations in the Central European area and are not characterized by any particularities. At the beginning of the meeting, personal topics (family, own experiences from Croatia) or current economic, international political or even sports topics are discussed. Roughly a third of the meeting time is devoted to this part. In the remaining two-thirds of the meeting, the topic of the meeting will be discussed. Croats tend to be friendly and cordial in dealings. However, they are otherwise sparing of emotions and tend to be matter-of-fact. Small differences can be noted in the south in Dalmatia, where the Southern European temperament is more evident. During the first formal meetings, it is not appropriate to offer alcohol for consumption (only if a bottle of quality wine is offered as a gift). For subsequent meetings, when the partners have already become close, alcohol is a suitable bonding agent. Negotiations are conducted in formal clothing, i.e. a suit, shirt and tie, in summer a shirt without a tie is tolerated. The negotiation team should only consist of people who have a specific role in the negotiation and should ensure that the number of people on both sides of the table is approximately equal. Therefore, it is always necessary to discuss in advance how many people will participate in the meeting and report their names and functions in the company. Although Croatia is a strongly patriarchal society, as in other European countries, there is no discrimination against women during negotiations.

  • PaulSourcing: Tips and recommendations for doing business with Croatia. Also includes country basic data and information for entering the its market.

Communication

In Croatia, face-to-face meetings are preferred over e-mail or telephone communication. Despite the fact that a large part of the population understands English, it is recommended and appropriate to conduct the meeting in Croatian, e.g. with the help of an interpreter, which is usually provided by the party that requested the meeting. Even presentations in Power Point, or other company and product materials or websites should be in Croatian, or at least in English (companies should especially avoid using materials in Serbian). English is a fairly common means of communication with foreign partners in the Croatian economic and administrative environment. The Czech Embassy or the Foreign Office of the PaulTrade Agency in Zagreb can recommend quality translators/interpreters (including legal ones), because poor translation quality (e.g. with the use of expressions from a related Serbian language) can cause a certain resentment and reluctance to communicate among Croatian entrepreneurs at the very beginning. Practically all topics of conversation are allowed during business meetings, but it is good to avoid discussing the war and relations between Croats and Serbs. Visit Aparentingblog for more information about Croatia culture and traditions.

Recommendation

It is always advisable to be well informed about the territory and the situation in the field in which the Czech company does business. Thorough preparation and obtaining relevant information is very suitable. We recommend looking for a suitable local partner, never acting behind his back, being friendly, fair, serious and correct. The Croatian market is small and negative information will spread quickly (even to neighboring countries). You need to be patient and persistent, the investment in building your business position/brand will pay off. Although English is used in many companies from international business, in the case of first contact and acquisition materials, Croatian is clearly a better choice. However, you need to be careful about the quality of official translations, we recommend using local interpreters (native speakers). Possible “Serbisms” can cause very unpleasant situations. Offer financing, which is welcomed here as added value (financial resources are more expensive here than elsewhere in the European Union). You may encounter bad payment morals, so request a letter of credit or a guarantee. A common instrument for securing receivables is a promissory note (“Promissory Note”). In Croatia, a maturity of 30 days is a rare minimum, 60 days is the standard, and 90 days or more is a welcome advantage. Your potential Croatian partners will always appreciate a personal meeting, but written or e-mail communication is usually not very effective. It pays to be seen and communicate in person rather than through different intermediaries. Set aside enough time for the meeting. If the meeting is followed by an invitation to lunch or dinner, definitely do not refuse and expect that it may drag on. All conversation topics are allowed, but avoid discussing the civil war and relations between Croats and Serbs. There are still problems with corruption, non-transparency of public contracts, state bureaucracy and the preference of local companies. All this is gradually but slowly weakening in parallel with the implementation of the EU legal order.

Public Holidays

Public holidays of the Republic of Croatia:

  • January 1 – New Year
  • January 6 – Three Kings
  • March – April – Easter (movable Christian holidays), this year April 18, 2022 (Easter Monday)
  • May 1 – Labor Day
  • May 30 – Statehood Day
  • June – Corpus Christi (moving), this year June 16, 2022
  • June 22 – Day of Anti-Fascist Struggle
  • August 5 – Victory and Thanksgiving Day and War Veterans Day
  • August 15 – Assumption of the Virgin Mary – Velika Gospi
  • November 1 – All Saints’ Day
  • November 18 – Civil War Remembrance Day
  • December 25 – 1st Christmas holiday
  • December 26 – 2nd Christmas holiday, St. Stephen.

Croatia Culture of Business