Given the looming prospect of Brexit or the exit of England from the European Union, many global companies and businesses from the UK, have started giving serious thoughts to establishing a business in other parts of Europe including France. France is also aware of this sudden interest in the country from businesses around the world. It is trying and has already established a business-friendly environment and support system to help companies, entrepreneurs and start-ups to come to the country.
It helps to understand the simple steps involved in starting up a business in France. The plus sides of establishing a business in the country are fairly known to all. These include regime committed to making the country hub of business for entering into Europe, to the president, who is the former banker and well versed with global business. Now it is also easy to hire and fire in France. The power of trade unions has come down, and employers can directly deal with employees.
While it is enticing to shift your base to France and on the surface, it does not seem like that big a deal, however, there are challenges you need to be aware of. France and UK may not be so far apart in terms of distance, but the cultural divide is so stark that you can be quite unnerving find the rug so completely pulled from under your feet. You will find yourself in a completely alien system where people don’t even speak your language and instructions to be followed are delivered in a foreign language. Calling it a learning curve would be an understatement, it is more like climbing a vertical rock!
As an outsourced Multilingual call center with over 15 years of experience in backing global businesses with native 24×7 French call center and French customer support to enter and establish themselves in the French market, we share here a few simple steps and tips you can benefit from to start a business in France.
Make a business plan.
It is necessary to show the France authorities what kind of business you are going to open, and what its mission statement will be? It will also explain to the French authorities how you are going to run the company? The business plan should also include your target market, customers, amount of money you may be investing and your business experience, etc.
Decide the business structure you want to have
There are different types of company registrations, such as private limited company, a private company, limited partnership company, single-owner company, etc., similarly, in France, there are some company structures. These structures are SARL, a limited company, SAS, simplified stock company, which is a kind of joint venture between a France company and foreign partner and opening a branch of your company in France. Select the kind of registration you would like to operate your company with. The business gets registration through a lawyer or by a registration company formation agent.
Understand the rules and regulations
All French charm aside, you may find it challenging to deal with the laid back attitude of French bureaucrats who infer rules and regulations very locally and as they deem fit. And hence, there is no universal yes or no to a question in France when it comes to rules and regulations. The more appropriate and accurate answer is ‘it depends’. Depending on your local area official and how he or she interprets the rules and regulations, you may find it very easy or cumbersome to navigate through the maze of the French system. You maybe find your best foe or friend in them. If you approach them with the right attitude and mindset, they may prove to be your best guide and source of accurate and reliable information.
Open bank account
Next comes the opening of a bank account. Here a meeting is arranged with a bank manager by your registration company agent or a lawyer. The bank manager may ask a few simple questions, nothing that you cannot answer. You may have to deposit some amount. Laws say that you can start with an investment of just one euro.
Then you will receive a final incorporation certificate by the government through some corporation department. The certificate will have your company registration number that has to be written on all your company documents and invoices. With this certificate, your bank account also starts working, and the bank manager will unlock you share capital amount. The final step is a welcome letter from the tax department and contact details, etc.
The whole process takes a few days and within the two weeks, you will have your business in France.
France is predominantly French-speaking and not English speaking country like many others in Europe. Though some in the younger generation may be comfortable conversing in English, but that is certainly not their preferred language of communication. French people take pride in their language and you will struggle to run a business in France without a French-speaking team and a French call center in place. Team members and call center outsourcing agents who are not fluent in French, should make sure that while talking to a French person, they open conversation with the apologetic sentence ‘Je suis désolée pour mon mauvais français” that means that ‘I am sorry for my bad French’. You will find that the French customer talking to you will be a lot more receptive to understand what you have to say and will make an effort to speak in English if they are able to do so. Even if everyone in your French call center team is not a native French Customer Support agent, they should at least familiarise themselves with basic vocabulary and common French phrases irrespective of their level of the French language. That said, if you can afford it, it will be ideal to have bilingual French call center agents for customer support who are fluent in both French and English. Outsourcing to a Multilingual call center is a good alternative for those who find it challenging to run an inhouse French call center.
Take time to understand the cultural differences
French are culturally different, period! Enter a boulangerie in France and not say “bonjour” to everyone standing in the queue is impolite! So be sure to do your homework if you plan to set up a business there!
Needless to say, it is not sufficient to know the French language, it is equally essential to have a thorough understanding of French culture and customs.
The French businessman and customers are straightforward and tend to ask a lot of questions. They also take business negotiations as an intellectual exercise. The logic will dominate their discussions.
At the same time, it is important to understand that decision making in France can be slow sometimes, this is due to the fact, that a French businessman or customer may want to know more about the deal or product. The aggressive selling techniques will never yield a positive result. Here patience is appreciated. The best option is the exchange of information and discussions for further progress.
These are some finer details about cultural differences that you and your French call center staff dealing with your French customers need to understand. It is best to hire native French call center agents as they need not be trained on French business etiquettes but if you can’t, make sure that you train and sensitize your French Customer Service staff well.
Our extensive experience in working with businesses selling in French markets and providing French customer support has given some great insights on how to interact with French customers appropriately and win their trust. All our French call center agents are bilingual and are fluent in both French and English. This is not only cost-effective for our clients but also makes it easier for them to internally communicate and train the French agents. We offer options for both non-native and native French call center agents. Contact us to learn more.