When you were the only eye doc in town, who needed a sign anyway? But now, with a Starbucks and an optometrist on every block, one has to consider carefully how to make certain that the average wandering patient will not stumble blindly into a $2,000-a-year latte budget that causes him or her to say these dreaded words: I just cant afford to get my eyes checked this year. In America, coffee and caramel will trump tonometry every single time.

So, all of a sudden in the last several years, instead of the usual white rectangle with black block letters stating Billy Bob, O.D. with some office hours microscopically printed beneathjust because we want the patient to have to actually walk over to read themI have seen O.D.s come up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 8,345,892 (give or take) vaguely eye-shaped logos so that the patient will clearly know that the building there is not a coffee shop but rather an eye doctors office.

The key is to design a sign that gives the sign chasers some sign that your office is designed to be somehow significant in their lives. This has to transcend the mundane why go blind appeal of the yearly eye examination. Thats just not sexy enough. After all, if someone calls your office because they saw a signassuming it was not in fact an undeniable sign, such as the parting of the seas or spontaneous human combustion (you know, something that clearly states that the patient probably should come see you)then it was probably more the location of the sign and the pithy message.

An example? Well, when you drive down the interstate, you may see a sign that says, to choose a random example, Girls! Girls! Girls! I immediately understand that I should not heed this sign as I am in fact not a girl, girl, girl. Also, I value my life, and those of you who know Mrs. Vickers will understand what I mean. This, however, is a CLEAR sign to get on down the highway just as fast as you can!

What if an optometrist were to put up a sign that said, Eyes! Eyes! Eyes!

As a consumer, I wouldnt know what to think about that. Sounds rather like a black market organ acquisition center. Instead, this doctor should perhaps convey something like, My Eye Care Office Is Right Beneath This Sign. That would take a persons attention off the most important thing theyre doing while behind the wheel of a 2,000-pound machine traveling at a high rate of speed through a residential and/or congested area Thats right: texting.

So, we have to get their attention and tell them why they should call us without simultaneously killing or maiming them and those nearby. The secret is surprise. I like signs that have a short message, phone number, whatever, that changes as they drive by, like a bank sign, I guess. That way, while the paramedics are prying them from the wreckage, they can think, Man, that was a cool sign right there.

But thats expensive. Also, you have to change the message very, very often. This would require you to add something to your humongous current list of things to do. Optometrists hate when that happens. Most of us are still working on 1988 to do lists Important stuff like, Order new PD ruler and Raise exam fee to $50. Thats why we need a stationary, interesting, brief sign that screams:

Here I Am. I Take Care of Eyes. Heres My Phone Number. WATCH OUT FOR THAT! Sorry, too late. Call 911.

That would work.

Vol. No: 146:07Issue: 7/15/2009