Netherlands: Appointment Alert!

2015-06-12

Making appointments

Planning, regulating, and organizing are prevailing values in this culture.

Punctuality is essential and expected in Dutch business culture, whether for business or social engagements.

Openly showing impatience and insisting on asap is perceived by the Dutch as an indication that you have not planned properly. Their asap [z.s.m.] usually means: at your earliest convenience.

If you know that you will be late for an appointment, be sure to phone ahead and give a plausible excuse.

The Dutch place tremendous importance on the efficient use of time.

Appointments will be carefully scheduled; never assume that they can be changed at the last minute. Again, spontaneity is not considered desirable in Dutch business culture.

Give at least one or two weeks’ notice for an appointment made by telephone or fax. For appointments made by mail, allow for a full month.

Always acknowledge [by mail] when you have received important business letters or documents such as contracts. Other messages can be done by e-mail, if need be.

Business letters may be written in English. Maintain a formal tone in all of your correspondence [since the letter might be passed on to other departments]. Even if you are on a first-name basis with the correspondent, it’s recommended that you use his or her family name with or without the professional title in your letters.

Keep in mind that Dutch executives frequently take extended vacations during July and August, and late December. Consequently, avoid planning a business trip to the Netherlands in the summer or around Christmas, since this is the most popular time for people to go on holiday.

Business hours, generally, are 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Banking hours, generally, are 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Some banks have Thursday night hours as well.

Store hours vary and can remain open between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, but few shops open that long. Generally, supermarkets in city centers will be open between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Other stores, and elsewhere, however, will close at 6:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m.

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