Germany Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

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

Introduction

Germany is a neighbor of the Czech Republic and the business culture is very similar to the Czech one. However, there are a few points that should be mentioned that will make it easier to do business with German partners. Business is taken seriously in Germany. Important German values ​​include honesty, loyalty, accuracy, professionalism and reliability. Transparency and directness are also important. Always plan everything several weeks in advance before the business meeting. Don’t be afraid to communicate by phone. Be formal and direct. Presentations should be well prepared, comprehensive, clear, informative and presented in a formal, rational and professional and attractive manner. The following paragraphs deal with issues surrounding business negotiations and inform about the cultural environment of Germany.

  • Beautypically: Overview of Germany, including popular places to visit, UNESCO World Heritage List, climate, geography and travel advice.

Addressing

Before reaching out to business partners, answer the following questions:

  • What can you offer a business partner?
  • In what quantity can you deliver the product / service?
  • How does the product / service differ from competing products?
  • What added value does the product / service offer?

Potential business partners can be companies that would sell your product or use it in their own company. Write to your potential business partners. Another way to establish yourself on the German market is to approach a distribution partner. When choosing, pay attention to the portfolio of a potential partner. At best, he already has products that target the same customer as your product, but do not compete with your product.

Approaching business partners at trade fairs

As trade fairs in Germany are quite large and often have a regional overlap, you need good preparation. Write in advance to the partners you want to meet, define the objectives of your meeting and prepare brochures about your offer. This will help you not to drown in the crowd and survive. At trade fairs in Germany, the deal is not closed at the fair, but afterwards.

Personal contact is important, but not decisive

Keeping in touch with business partners is important. Meet the responsible people, show your interest and take your time. However, in Germany – unlike other countries – there is no need for regular visits, but above all for building trust. German partners tend to seek less personal contact. It may therefore happen that face-to-face meetings – for example due to lack of time – will be cancelled. Make a good contract at the beginning of the business relationship to avoid problems.

Business meeting

Business meetings are a common feature of corporate life in Germany. The meeting can be conducted in many ways: in person, by teleconference, video conference, via the Internet.

  • Usually schedule meetings several weeks in advance by phone or email.
  • Avoid business meetings in the months of July and August, or during public holidays (including religious ones such as Pentecost and Ascension and other regional and national holidays).
  • The invitation to the business meeting should be written in German. Germans take the subsequent quick processing of correspondence as a matter of course. Phone calls must be answered promptly. However, initial contact can be complicated. Therefore, do not give up after the first failure and support the email with a phone call.
  • Business meetings usually run from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM; but avoid the lunch break and Friday afternoon.
  • Lunch and dinner serve for business entertainment, to get to know both business partners. German partners like to combine gastronomic pleasure with an interesting conversation about potential business.
  • At first contact, shake hands briefly and firmly with everyone present and maintain eye contact, but avoid uncomfortably long stares.
  • You should address your business partners as “Herr” or “Frau” with their last name or, if applicable, with their university degrees (Dr.). These are important for Germans.
  • Gifts are not exchanged during business negotiations, but small gifts may be appropriate upon successful completion of negotiations.
  • Dress conservatively and decently for work meetings. Men should wear a suit and tie; and women a costume or decent dress.
  • Business cards are exchanged fairly early in the meeting. They should be in the English language if not in German.

Tip: German business partners prefer substantive discussions. Working meetings are focused on content. After a short “small talk”, they quickly move to the point. This is how Germans want to convince with their skills and show them. They usually prefer a well-prepared speech with lots of graphs, empirical arguments and statistics. This is how they build trust. During a business meeting, do not use an exaggerated or indirect communication style, as this may be perceived with suspicion.

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

Be careful, don’t take criticism personally.

The Ten Commandments for Trading with the Germans

  • Communicate systematically and prepare for the meeting.
  • Apply the ability to improvise.
  • Present yourself confidently, invest in online marketing.
  • Don’t be afraid to call, email is often not enough.
  • Don’t rely on being able to communicate in English.
  • Meet deadlines and be reliable.
  • Don’t underestimate the knowledge and preparation of your German partner.
  • Only a good price and quality in a demanding concentrated market is not enough – innovation.
  • Look for a sales representative.
  • Get to know your customers, but also your competition.

Communication

  • Do not expect knowledge of Czech on the German side, however, knowledge of English is not quite usual either.
  • We recommend excellent German, ideally having a native speaker with you.
  • When conversing, use short, clear simple and concise statements with less emotion – Germans are more direct and formal, they don’t use idioms or small talk. Visit Aparentingblog for more information about Germany culture and traditions.
  • Communicate best in person or by phone. Email is often not enough.
  • Ideally, send informational materials in perfect German.
  • If you can’t speak German, learn at least a few phrases – this will show that you want to understand and appreciate their culture.
  • Germans highly value their privacy and personal space. Do not ask personal questions about employment, salary, age, family or children, even if you have a well-established friendship.

Recommendation

Among the most important customs in Germany can be considered:

  • seriousness and reliability
  • high technical level and quality of products (including the overlap of companies in VVI)
  • reasonable price
  • goodwill and the necessity to “be present” – at fairs, scientific symposia, conferences, important social events, etc.
  • establishing personal contacts
  • the art of lobbying, connecting to state activities /missions, etc./
  • have a registered company on the market
  • building a Joint-Venture for activities on the local market, event. in third markets
  • active use of the national network of commercial and economic representations at embassies, general consulates and foreign offices of the agencies PaulTrade, CzechInvest and CzechTourism.
  • using knowledge of the specific mentality of partners in individual regions of Germany
  • active use of the specifics of the markets of the individual 16 federal states of Germany
  • knowledge of the German language

Information on working hours and sales hours:

Working hours: Generally regulated by the Working Hours Act (Arbeitszeitgesetz), however, it is flexible and regulated only by agreed tariffs in individual sectors, for some companies working hours are individually negotiated. Tariffs also differ according to employee qualification groups. The Minimum Wage Act entered into force on 1 January 2015.

Opening hours: Most shops are closed on Sundays. It is only open on state-permitted Sundays (so-called Verkaufsoffener Sonntag). The framework conditions are set by the law on closing hours (Ladenschlußgesetz), however, the conditions for e.g. evening or weekend sales are specifically regulated by regional laws and decrees.

Public Holidays

National holidays partly differ between the various federal states due to religious reasons (Catholic and Evangelical countries) and due to regional divisions. You can find the list of holidays here.

The biggest holidays include Christmas and Easter.

School holidays: During the summer school holidays, a more limited operation of offices and companies can be expected in the individual federal states, and at the same time a significant increase in traffic on the main routes (mainly north-south). Overview of school holidays in individual federal states in the school year 2021/2022 or 2022/2023.

Germany Culture of Business