Successful Entertaining in Germany

As Germans tend to make quite a strong separation between work and their private life, it is fairly unusual to be taken out for dinner and even rarer to be invited to someone’s home.
Most business entertaining is done over lunch — either in a restaurant or, at larger companies, in company facilities.

It is not unknown to talk about business during the meal, although it is probably a good idea to try to introduce a few non-work related topics. (Sport is often a good option.)

If invited out for a meal, the host will always expect to pay. Similarly, if you invite someone for a business lunch, you will be expected to pick up the bill. In Germany, the knife is used throughout the meal. Eating with only one hand, with the other hand placed on one’s lap under the table, (as is common in North America) is not considered particularly good table etiquette.

Although alcohol may be offered at a business lunch, many Germans will refrain from drinking during the working day — take the lead from your host.

It is usual to leave a tip of around 10% at the end of a meal.

A brief overview of some key concepts to consider when doing business in Germany

Written and Produced by Keith Warburton

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Germany continues to retain its position as the driving force of the European economy. It holds a pre-eminent position within the massive economic and political block that is the European Union and it shows no signs of relinquishing its position of leadership and power anytime soon.

Possibly aided by a weakened Euro, Germany is the archetypal successful modern economy with a massively effective export engine at its core. German engineering and ingenuity finds its way to all corners of the world with those exports competing from a quality angle rather than on a price basis. Whatever Germany is doing, however it is doing it – it is extremely successful and, therefore, well worth studying.

On the flip side, Germany is also a highly attractive market for your products and services and if you are not currently doing business in Germany you should certainly consider doing so. Germany has a large sophisticated consumer base with high levels of disposable income and a large manufacturing base looking for components, inspiration and expertise.

One of the keys to success when doing business in Germany is an ability to understand German business culture and the profound impact that the local business culture has when interacting with German colleagues or clients. Lack of preparation could cost you dearly; inattention to detail could result in lost opportunities. Do your homework before engaging in Germany – it’s a must.
This country profile provides an overview of some of the key aspects of German business culture in a concise, easy to follow-format. The document includes information on:

  • Background to business
  • Business Structures
  • Management style
  • Meetings
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Women in business
  • Entertaining
  • Top tips