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Bulgarian Business Culture

Bulgarian Business Culture

Bulgarian Banks

Bulgarians like to do business with people, face-to-face, therefore visiting the country to meet and work with local partners and customers is vital. You will need to be prepared to visit Bulgaria regularly to maintain the relationship with your partner and customers.  Simply sending emails or faxes, or relying on distance selling techniques will not work.

Finding the suitable local business partner(s) is the most important factor for export success.  Managing already established business relationships will require more time than in other countries, and regular visits to the market are vital.

Business etiquette
The usual office hours of business in Bulgaria are 9.00am-5.00pm, Monday to Friday.

Words of advise about the ways Bulgarian people do business:

  • Appointments can take some time to arrange, depending on the seniority of the person you wish to meet. It is recommended to seek appointments in advance of a visit.

  • Allow sufficient time for business meetings, which can be quite protracted always allow more time than you expect.

  • It is expected that visitors arrive on time for an appointment. If unexpected circumstances arise to cause a delay of more than 10-15 minutes, call to notify the person of the delay.

  • In the public sector, Bulgarians have at least two to four weeks holiday per year. The annual vacation period is usually in July and August and it is advisable not to arrange appointments during this period or Christmas/New Year.
  • At formal meetings surnames are used. As relationships gradually build up it would be natural to address your counterpart in given (first) names. Business cards are normally exchanged at the beginning of a meeting.
  • Decision-making is usually made on a consensus basis and it is recommendable to include all possible decision-makers.
  • A business lunch or dinner usually follows negotiations. Bulgarians are very hospitable, and enjoy Bulgarian  food and drink. Occasionally some of these lunches and dinners may take longer than usual. Lunch normally starts between 12.30pm-1.00pm, while dinner starts around 7.00pm-8.00pm. English is spoken in most of the big restaurants, especially in the capital, Sofia.
  • There is a Bulgarian habit of toasting by clinking glasses with a 'rakia', a strong grape or plum brandy that comes together with a salad. The toast in Bulgarian is 'nazdrave' which means 'to your health'.
  • Smoking is not an issue in Bulgaria, and Bulgarians can light up a cigarette in the middle of their salad. Nevertheless, it would be polite to ask whether it is accepted to smoke when visiting someone's office or home.
 

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