Support Services

Support Services

Hand Pointing Out to the Word "Success" | © Fotolia

Source: Hand Pointing Out to the Word "Success" | © Fotolia

Translators' Services

Understanding your business partner is essential to establishing reliable, long-term business relations in Germany. Success in Germany, particularly at the beginning of your business venture, may thus depend to a great degree on the assistance of professional translators and/or interpreters.

They can help with a variety of tasks, from making the first business contacts at a German trade show to developing full-fledged business activities and/or providing German translations of official documents. Only certified translators (''amtlich vereidigt'', ''beeidigt'' or ''ermächtigt'') can produce official translations, and you can find lists of some of these translators on the websites of the Association of Professional Translators & Interpreters (ATICOM) and the Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators (BDÜ). Particularly the BDÜ website offers a free databank containing over 7,500 qualified linguists for more than 80 languages and many fields of specialization.

As your business relationships in Germany mature, however, it is of paramount importance that you and/or your personnel are able to communicate at a high level on business topics. For this purpose, a wide range of business German training is available from several reputable providers.

Business Meetings

Business engagements in Germany begin and end with the same simple gesture, a single hand shake. This gesture sets the tone for the entire ensuing conversation and symbolizes an important connection in a culture that otherwise places great value on maintaining a high level of personal space and formality.

Often conversations begin with a little small talk about the weather, the trip to the meeting or current events. If the business partners know each other a little better, they may exchange a little banter about their favorite soccer teams and talk about recent vacations abroad or a cultural event they took part in recently.

German business people usually have a structured style of conducting high-level meetings including an agenda which all participants receive ahead of time and can be adjusted in case of unexpected changes before the meeting starts. This increased level of transparency and clarity is a characteristic of the way many Germans also like to do business. It additionally gives Germans the reputation for being straightforward, efficient, reliable and well-prepared.

When you are attending a business conference, both lunch and dinner are also important elements of the conference. The German beverage of choice for such business meetings remains the good cup of java savored worldwide. Meals allow those attending to make personal contacts and to continue discussing business matters in a more casual atmosphere. Read ''Business Dinners'' to find out about the table manners you should keep in mind in Germany or our ''Business Etiquette Guide'' to prepare for your next business meeting.

Distribution Channels

Principally, German law places no restrictions on the means used to distribute imported goods in the country. Thus, foreign businesses can select the distribution channel/s best suited to their product and preferred degree of involvement in the German market. The most common distribution channels consist of wholesale and retail enterprises, trading houses, merchants, commercial agents, distributors and, finally, subsidiaries in Germany. Our ''business sectors'' profiles include details on the type of distribution channels most frequently utilized in the respective industry.

German wholesale and retail companies' purchasing departments source products from and have subsidiaries in a variety of locations around the world. These business partners are advantageous for companies desiring to sell goods to a German subsidiary in their home country. This option allows businesses to communicate in their own language and without having to leave the country. More information on the German wholesale and retail field is available in our respective business sector profile.

Selling to German trading houses and merchants is a very low-risk means of entering the market for the exporter, since trading houses/merchants take care of finding customers and completing the sales themselves. It may, however, take some effort to convince the German business partner to take on the risk of stocking his/her goods. Assistance in finding potential German wholesalers, retailers, trading houses and merchants is available from the Federation of German Wholesale and Foreign Trade (BGA).

German Commercial agents and (sole) distributors sell products for one or several companies on a commission basis without actually stocking the goods themselves. This method of distribution is attractive to both parties. Companies only pay a commission when sales have been made and agents/distributors are not required to keep expensive stock on hand. Further information on finding a commercial agent in Germany is available from the German CDH (National Association of German Commercial Agents and Distribution).

For long-term market penetration, many businesses choose to set up a subsidiary in Germany. The subsidiary has the advantage of being located in Germany and, thus, being easily accessible to wholesale and retail customers in the country and the Single European Market. This accessibility and the opportunity to conduct business in German, increases the company's attractiveness for potential customers. Establishing a subsidiary in Germany is more complex than setting up any of the other distribution channels, however, Germany Trade and Invest's free investment consulting services can greatly simplify the process. Furthermore, GTAI offers an Investment Guide which can be downloaded directly from the website.

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