Spain is now home to around 47 million people, with 81% of those people living in urban areas such as cities. It is no surprise that over the last couple of decades businesses have seen an enormous boom, attracting investors from all around the world. Spain is a country full of good food, refreshingly cheerful music and a climate that is hard to complain about, which for this reason makes it a very attractive place to do business. However, there are some things any entrepeneur should be aware of about business culture in Spain beforehand, to make sure there are no shocks when encountering these new customs.
It is typical in Spain when you meet an associate of the opposite sex that you give them a kiss on both cheeks, kissing their right side to the left (remember this before as it can be embarrassing if you forget this..!) and a handshake typically for a male associate. However, it is best to keep in mind that at business meetings and formal introductions the safest option is to go for a handshake unless initiated by the other person.
Doing Business: Meetings and Negotiations
You may have heard that business negotiations and meetings in Spain are generally more laid back, often talking everything over with a beer in hand or even over a meal at a restaurant. Building strong personal relationships with your potential business partners is considerably important in Spain, as a lot rests on this. In many cases, these social connections are a vital part in successful negotiations and can even be a guarantee of agreements often replacing written bonds. This may be shown in revealing details that may not be appropriate in other countries, such as information about your family, where you grew up and other more personal information. This may be difficult to get used to if you’re from say, the UK or Germany where written contracts are often pivotal to business negotiations.
Maybe it’s due to the impeccable weather, maybe it’s down to the faultless Mediterranean weather or maybe it’s the result of another factor, but the Spanish are very fond of making conversation. Many people will stop you on the street, addressing you like an old friend with a warm smile. It is handy to get used to this, as when in business meetings and more casual meetings with business partners they will often be completely open and ask about factors like family life, children, marriage as very few topics in Spain are considered taboo.
To make an even better impression and wanting to make a fantastic impression on your Spanish ally, it will leave a lasting impression if you speak to them in Spanish. Often many people will speak in English, but will prefer to talk in Spanish in more social situations making them feel more comfortable and showing that you are accepting of their culture and language.
Typical Spanish Working Hours
Professional offices are usually open from 10am to 2pm, then from 4pm to 7pm, though it is becoming more common for businesses to stay open from 9 to 4pm, which could soon mean the end of traditional siesta hours. Typically banks are open from 9 to 2pm and they are then required by law to choose either to open one afternoon a week, or on Saturday morning.
The working hours will change in August, during this period is when most people choose to take their summer holidays so generally work is a lot calmer. The hours change to jornada intensiva which are from 8am-3pm.
Lunch is between 2 pm and 4 pm. Most people in Spain eat at home, though in big cities, it is common to go to a restaurant and have a menu (and avoid the double commute). Dinner is generally a lighter meal; 10pm is the normal time to eat at restaurants.
Leaving a Tip
Coming from America or the UK it is customary to leave a tip, often resulting in a bad feeling if you don’t. In Spain, this is not the case. You will not appear rude if you do not leave a tip, however if you want to leave one because the service has been good or for whatever reason, people won´t look at you strangely.
Timekeeping and Punctuality
Spanish people are usually less likely to feel the pressure of a time schedule, however to leave a good impression it is recommended that you are on time for business meetings, or meetings in general. You should always expect that the Spanish party will also be on time, to make sure there are no misunderstandings and mishaps.
Dressing to Impress
Concerning business negotiations and business culture in Spain, presentation is very important. For men, a well fitted suit and a clean shave and haircut give off the correct impression showing that you take care of yourselves. Brands are also very important in Spain and can lead to your potential business associates being left with a good impression about you. Women should wear well-cut suits of high-quality fabric. In this case designer clothes and brand names will also be greeted with approval. The female business woman should emphasize their professionalism through their immaculate clothes and hair.
There are often many things to take into account when doing business in other countries, but these are the things that we at Carbray consider are important to know.