- Business Meeting
- Public Holidays
Despite the cultural-historical and geographical proximity of Slovenia and the Czech Republic, it is advisable to find a local representative for business activities who is better oriented in the market and has a wide network of contacts. Slovenia is a small territory, people know each other to a large extent and are often interconnected, therefore networking has an important function. In practice, however, this interdependence also has negatives, which mainly consist of widespread nepotism and other forms of systemic corruption, which is why a local sales representative is preferable in this sense. Despite the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, when most company activities and meetings have moved to the virtual space, face-to-face meetings are still key.
The initial contact is ideal in electronic form, followed by a subsequent verification by phone and arranging a personal meeting. The electronic form of addressing is the first impression that can either turn the partner away or make them take personal action, therefore when introducing the company, brevity, matter-of-factness, an emphasis on tradition and the quality of products/services are recommended, which should also be reflected in well-crafted promotional material that is suitable also attach to the email.
It is also appropriate to address a specific person who has the competence to make a quick decision, such as a director, sales director, purchasing manager, etc.
In Slovenia, a positive attitude towards the use of academic titles is rooted, but mainly in correspondence, considerably less in personal dealings. The Slovenian side considers Ph.D. degrees, or CSc. and DrSc. suffer from their introduction, namely in abbreviated form Dr. before the name. Certainly, an academic degree should not be missing on any business card of a business partner, in addition to the company logo and an address with a valid telephone, fax and e-mail address.
Despite the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, when most company activities and meetings have moved to the virtual space, face-to-face meetings are still key. It is absolutely necessary, especially at the beginning of cooperation, when it is necessary to create trust between business partners, but regular (even if less frequent) personal meetings are also important in the next phase of cooperation.
Business meetings must be arranged at least 14 days in advance, and if the counterparty is willing to meet, the meeting usually takes place at the company’s headquarters during standard working hours (8:00/9:00 – 16:00/17:00). In a business meeting, it is automatically assumed that a man will wear a suit, for women a costume and standard accessories are appropriate. Business negotiations, especially in the case of repeated meetings, can also take place in the restaurant, during lunch between 12:00 and 14:00, possibly during dinner after 18:00. It is not appropriate to refuse an invitation to a meeting of this type, even if it is less formal or completely informal. Slovenian wine is usually served with the meal, which is usually of excellent quality. Slovenians generally enjoy quality gastronomy.
- PaulSourcing: Tips and recommendations for doing business with Slovenia. Also includes country basic data and information for entering the its market.
Gifts for business partners are common in business relations. Slovenians themselves usually present Slovenia and its cultural and gastronomic traditions in the form of a gift, therefore we also recommend that Czech companies give something typically Czech, e.g. Czech porcelain, crystal, local handicrafts, etc. Due to the Slovenian love of good food, it is possible to focus the gift in this direction as well and give, for example, Czech beer, wine, honey, specialties, etc.
The summer tourist season, which is most intense from mid-June to early September, when most businessmen and managers are on vacation, is rather unsuitable for business meetings. The collective holidays of entire companies are no exception (as in neighboring Italy), when companies are very difficult to reach during this period. It is also not advisable to make appointments for Friday afternoons or during certain vacations or holidays (see chapter 4.6).
Slovenians are mostly punctual and go to business meetings on time, sometimes even before the agreed date. It is quite frequent and common that they switch not only among themselves, but also with foreign business partners, relatively quickly to a less formal style of communication, e.g. calling by first name or ticking, which may surprise a Czech businessman somewhat, as Czechs usually maintain a formal/neutral communication style significantly longer than Slovenians. In general, however, it can be said that this Slovenian gesture is pleasant, seems friendly and often helps to break the ice or initial mistrust.
Slovenian managers tend towards a western style of management and adherence to usual business practices. Hierarchical management is an important part of the Slovenian business community, the level of education and experience is crucial for social status and career development. Decision-making power is rarely delegated to a lower than senior management position. The fastest growing types of companies are family businesses of small to medium size (up to 50 employees). On the other hand, a horizontal organizational structure based on team cooperation, individual contribution, autonomy and personal responsibility of employees is increasingly being applied. This trend is generally present in multinational corporations, and in the Slovenian environment especially in large export companies or start-ups. Visit Aparentingblog for more information about Slovenia culture and traditions.
The official language is Slovenian, in the border areas with Italy and Hungary, Italian and Hungarian are also recognized as official languages, as they are bilingual areas. In business and official communication, the most used language is English, the general knowledge of which is at a very solid level, German is less common, Italian is used exceptionally. The majority of the population speaks Croatian, or Serbian, the use of these languages is rather not recommended for the first business contact, but it always depends on the specific situation. Especially the older generations who were born during the Yugoslavia period sometimes prefer Croatian/Serbian to English. Therefore, it is not necessary to have an interpreter in the Czech/Slovenian language with you during negotiations, although this can make a significant impression on the business partner, since Slovenian is not a widely used language and Slovenians tend to be pleased,
A similar logic also applies to marketing materials, which are ideal to have prepared in the English language, possible variants are also materials in the German, Croatian or Serbian language (if it is written in Latin). Promotional materials should be processed in a high-quality and visually attractive manner. In terms of content, it is important to underline the company’s tradition, references (e.g. a list of references) and product quality (e.g. an overview of quality certificates, attestations, studies, awards).
In communication, Slovenians tend to be open and relaxed. They know the Czech Republic relatively well due to its logistical proximity, and thanks to their love of travel, they like to talk about their travel experiences (and not only) in the Czech Republic. However, most of them only know Prague well, so during the interview it is possible to draw attention to other interesting touristic places in the Czech Republic and use this opportunity to officially invite them to the company’s headquarters in the Czech Republic. Slovenians are also often interested in the political situation in the Czech Republic, economic development and the macroeconomic situation. In contrast to the second half of the 1990s and the turn of the century, when Slovenia overtook the Czech Republic in many aspects of development, the situation changed significantly after the economic and financial crisis of 2009. The Czech Republic has developed dynamically since then, while in Slovenia we are talking about the so-called lost decade.
Openness and constructiveness
Slovenian hosts expect their business partners to be prepared, have a constructive approach and a modest demeanor without any prejudices, every opinion is respected. Equality, respect and openness are the essence of communication with Slovenian partners.
Slovenian business partners usually expect quality products/services, supported by references in demanding, especially Western markets, and quality certificates (ISO, TÜV). Marketing and the overall image of the brand should also reflect quality as one of the company’s main values.
As a rule, the first business meeting is not the phase of the cooperation agreement. It is necessary to maintain regular communication with the business partner and to meet at least once a year in person, either at the headquarters of one of the companies or at fairs, exhibitions, conferences, etc.
Public holidays and significant days:
- 1. 1. – 2. 1. – New Year
- 8. 2. – Cultural day (Prešernov dan)
- Easter (same as the Czech Republic)
- 27. 4. – Day of resistance against the occupation
- 1. 5. – 2. 5. – Labor Day
- 25 June – Statehood Day
- 8/15 – Assumption of the Virgin Mary
- 31 October – Reformation Day
- 1/11 – Day of the Dead
- 25/12 – Christmas
- 26 December – Independence Day
The listed public holidays are also days off. Companies have a habit of taking collective holidays in some cases. Collective leave of a short-term nature, e.g. in a situation where Thursday is a holiday, management will determine all employees also on Friday, and the company cannot be reached on these days. Companies plan longer collective vacations (2-3 weeks), especially during the summer holidays. Weekly collective holidays can then appear around May 1 and Day of the Dead, as school holidays tend to be around that time as well.