Tennessee: Doing business & staying in touch

Doing business in Tennessee

Businesspeople are generally expected to dress smartly. Western business courtesies should be observed, although Americans tend to be less formal than Europeans. Appointments and punctuality are expected procedure and business cards are widely used. Dates in America are written month-day-year.

Memphis is a friendly, laid-back city and this relaxed attitude often extends into the business world. There are no strict dress codes. At some companies, such as banks and law offices, men are expected to wear suits and ties every day. But in other firms, male employees wear smart-casual clothes, such as polo shirts and chinos. Sandals, shorts or jeans should be avoided, however.

In a city used to seeing entertainment industry folk dressed down, the Nashville approach tends to be more casual. Some meetings will be conducted in jeans, although the city's financial and healthcare executives can be formal. Few restaurants or clubs require a jacket and tie.

Memphis people enjoy a drink, although they avoid consumption at lunchtime. Exceptions are bars and clubs that restrict clientele to over 21 years of age. In Nashville, more formal colleagues will prefer a business lunch to dinner, while in the entertainment industry, a social drink after work would not be out of the ordinary. Southern hospitality may often lead to an invitation to a host's home -an invitation sincerely meant and one that should be gratefully accepted.

Southern states tend to be more conservative than the north, so visitors should limit themselves to moderate social drinking until they know their hosts. Bad language tends to be frowned upon, although again, the music business has its own rules. Courtesies are all-important and ‘Sir' and ‘Ma'am' will be frequently heard. Southerners tend to stick together too and side with fellow Southerners, so visitors should avoid talking about politics until they know whom they are dealing with.

Office hours

Business hours are generally Monday to Friday 0830-1700, although the entertainment businesses usually start and finish later. Breakfast meetings are common, although their timing varies, and the entertainment businesses usually start and finish later.


Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.