Virtual Offices Give Some Companies Big-City Prestige

While the Internet is making the world a smaller place, some companies with offices in remote locations may need more than just a Web presence to attract more business.

As in real estate, the business mantra also seems to be "location, location, location." When Entrepreneur magazine asked 340 fast-growth business leaders what their biggest challenges will be in 2006, 36 percent mentioned expansion to other U.S. markets. Yet for those who cannot afford to pay big-city rent, moving company headquarters or opening a branch in a city like New York is not always feasible.

To attract more clients in high-profile areas, some companies are embracing the concept of a "virtual office" - having a physical address in a major city while the company's actual operations remain elsewhere in the country.

"The virtual office provides a business with a high-profile corporate address and the professional image of a full-time office at a fraction of its cost," said Howard Watler of Rockefeller Group Business Centers, a provider of "instant office solutions" like virtual office space.

Through The Rockefeller Group, for example, companies get more than an address; they get a host of services including a dedicated phone number (answered by company name), fax, voice mail, shipping and professional receptionist greeting service.

Because the virtual office is actually a part of a business center, private offices and meeting facilities are made available for meeting clients or other company needs. The Rockefeller Group also provides a full-time business service center staff to assist with document design, media presentations, desktop publishing, spreadsheet design and production services as needed.