The Illume Method: Interview with Jen Bullock, Aesthetics Expert

Meet Jen Bullock, nurse practitioner and owner of Illume Aesthetics in Ashland, Oregon. She’s also a key opinion leader for Candela Medical. Jen’s sharing her Illume Method and how it’s delivering amazing results for her patients in this interview! Let’s dive right in. 

Jen Bullock: 

So the method is essentially a roadmap that I take all of my patients through and what it focuses on is using energy based technologies and using injectables, like our Botox and dermal fillers, and then the clinical grade skincare products to give people really, really extraordinary outcomes. So the Illume Method is essentially using education as the foundation of everything that we do. But we also are talking about using our energy based technologies, our injectables, like our Botox and our fillers and sculptra, and then really good clinical grade skin care to protect people as they go through the process.

Katlin Cauffman: 

I want you to take it back a little bit because I hear a lot of med spas that say they have all of those three things that you mentioned, but what do you think is the key? What do you think is the real difference that really gives you, your staff and the people that you’ve trained in recommending a comprehensive treatment plan that’s gonna deliver results for patients? What is that key difference do you think?

Jen Bullock: 

Well as a healthcare provider working in aesthetic medicine, it is totally different from any other environment that I worked in before. One of the things that I noticed myself doing when people would come in and they would have an idea of what they wanted, maybe they’d show up and they were asking for Botox…I would give them Botox and they would leave and I’d have really no follow up connection with them until they had their Botox the next time. And maybe if I noticed that while they were there, that they were broken out or had hyperpigmentation, I would bring up and mention something to them about an IPL or about seeing our esthetician. But I felt like I really didn’t have a structure or a plan to follow that worked really well for everyone. So a couple of years ago we had Terry Ross come and speak to us and do some training with sales. And what she brought to my practice was something called an aesthetic interest questionnaire. And what it is is this questionnaire that the patients fill out and it has everything. Instead of just checking the box ‘I’m interested in Botox’, it has a list of symptoms to choose from instead. For example: clogged pores, hyperpigmentation, redness, fine lines or wrinkles, and all the little things. And we were able to target it based on what we offer. And what I noticed is that it created the opportunity to have a really fluid conversation with the patients about what their concerns were. It took the pressure off of me to try and “sell them something”, because I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of selling things. And then over time we really just developed this process of creating this treatment plan.

That allows me to introduce what I think will be the best  roadmap for my patients to follow. But that gets them everything that they need and introduces it to them. I provide the education at that time, we spend on average 45 minutes with each of those clients as they come in for their consultation. And then the next time I see them they are going to say, “Yes, I’m gonna do my filler and my laser and my Botox!!” And, they’re ready to do it right away, because we spent so much time building the foundation at their consultation. They know that these are the things that they need and they know that they’re going to do them at some point in that year. So, it just creates a really easy transition. So when they come in for that Botox, the next time when I’m looking at their skin, I can say, do you remember how we talked about IPL?

And this is where we start doing our series of laser treatments. And it’s just created a seamless way for me to have that conversation and continue the conversation. And what we found is that the patients are HAPPIER. They feel like they’re being taken care of. They feel like I remember what we’ve talked about, that I am looking at them as an individual and looking at what they need when they come in. People tell me all the time that  when one of my nurses doesn’t do the follow up and doesn’t notice these things that they feel like she’s not caring about them. So, it’s something that we’ve built into our education. And then we leave ourselves notes along the way. This is where the patient is on their trajectory. So every single patient comes in and we know that they’re going to be sent to education about IPL when it’s time, if they’re due for Botox, where they’re at in their filler lifespan. If people are gonna be coming in annually for their fillers and they feel like we care about them because we know where they are at in their life cycle.

Katlin Cauffman: 

I want to break down two things that you just said. ‘Cause I really want to make sure people get this. So, when you say ‘aesthetic interest questionnaire’, I want to make sure that everyone is perfectly clear  that this is not just the same whole medical history paperwork that everyone fills out about like blood pressure and medications. And are you pregnant and are you breastfeeding? No, no, no, no. We’re getting down to the nitty gritty of every possible pain point, emotional and or physical that a patient could have that you have a solution for because in the beginning they might just think that they’re coming in for 20 units of Botox. But then once they answer that question about intimacy or urinary incontinence,  or hormones, then it opens that door to have the conversation. So you absolutely NEED an aesthetic interest questionnaire, it will make a night and day difference. It’s an absolutely crucial piece of paperwork that every single patient fills out.

Jen Bullock: 

Exactly. And the thing is, most of the people that fill it out said things like ‘Oh, I didn’t even realize this was something that I could address. Tell me more about this.’ And so a lot of times we do intimate wellness and almost every woman over 40 has some sort of issue with vaginal dryness or urinary incontinence  and nobody approaches those topics with them. So, you know, even just introducing the topic is key.

And even, even if they’ve been a patient for a really long time, I just, I saw a statistic just a few months ago, talking about how that less than 30% of your patients actually know all the tools in your tool belt that you have, that you could potentially help they’re aging every day they’re exposed just of with them.

Katlin Cauffman: 

Yeah. And until they need it, even though you could be doing a fantastic job with your content and your education, until they actually need it. A lot of times it’s not absorbed or like received until they’re actually in the market. And so it’s great that you do that annually with them.

So once a med spa institutes, the practice of an aesthetic interest questionnaire, or some version of that, is getting the next challenge that I often see with medspas is getting the provider to actually use it. So, how can you position this with providers? Why use this, why they need to use….. 

Jen Bullock: 

Well, in my office, it’s not optional. It is part of the intake paperwork. And then it’s part of their one year follow up. And really in aesthetic medicine, you’re supposed to have an intake with a license provider, whether that’s an MD or a nurse practitioner you have to get clearance to be receiving the treatments in the facility. Cause these are medical procedures and really that’s, we just build it into that process. So they fill out their paperwork online before they come in. And then the paperwork that they’re doing in the office is that aesthetic interest questionnaire. And without it, I can’t even guide the conversation. Because I’m going to be using so much of what they give me to direct what it is that I wanna talk about.

And EVERY SINGLE TIME, I ask them about the skincare products they are using. And they’ll oftentimes tell me ‘I’m using, you know, St. Ives or Neutrogena’  and then I  have the opportunity to discuss why clinical grade skin care is better than what we’re using over the counter. Cause when we’re in our twenties and thirties, maybe it doesn’t matter as much, but as we start investing money into things like Botox and lasers and stuff, we wanna protect their investment. And really the whole thing with clinical grade skin care is it is better. 

Get my tips to selling more medical grade skincare at: https://youtu.be/pRmU1ciZBXs 

Most of us from traditional healthcare backgrounds think of sales as dirty and uncomfortable. But over time, what I realized is that it’s unethical for me not to share what I offer because over the years, people that have come into my clinic, will go out and Groupon or they’ll get Botox at a salon or whatever. And some places are great, but some places are not great and they’re not safe and they’re secondary infections and scarring, etc. . So I know for myself that what we offer is the absolute best in the industry and the absolute best anywhere around. And it’s my duty to provide that to my patients and let them know what we have. If I don’t, then I’m doing them a disservice. And so it kind of takes away that whole I’m selling something to I’m serving. Right.

Katlin Cauffman:

And, when you’re teaching the Illume Method and you’re really providing the people that you’re training with a roadmap, what is the approach that you’re taking?

Jen Bullock: 

Well, first of all, education about why we suggest the things that we suggest! I’m super nerdy. I love science, I love research. And so when I’m talking to patients about IPL, I’m citing the Stanford study. When I’m talking about Botox treatment areas, I’ll explain WHY we really wanna recommend treating all three areas each appointment. It’s because the research is there. We know patients get better outcomes, they’re happier. I talk about the three different causes of aging and how we address all of those things. That’s part of the roadmap that we lay out. And then a trajectory and a timeline for when those treatments are appropriate. It’s not ever going to be a one and done because aging never stops. And I have people that come in all the time that are mad because they got a single syringe to treat a whole jawline and they don’t notice a difference. We do a ton of like full face corrections instead of single syringe options. So just being willing to lay it out for what they need when they need it. 

Katlin Cauffman:

My next question is how are you able to get over price objections? Because, when you’re talking about energy based technologies, injectables, medical grade skincare, I mean the price tag is adding up and how are you able to get over that fear of asking for such in essence high dollars and feel really confident in the recommendation of your treatment plan. How did you develop that?

Jen Bullock: 

I think part of it’s practice, but also believing in what I offer. I know that when I prescribe these things, I’m as invested in the outcome of the patients as they are. They are a walking billboard and the patients that do the things that I recommend are ecstatic. They’re telling all of their friends, they look incredible, they feel incredible. And we have this relationship with them. Because I mean, so much of this is relationship based. All of my patients are my girlfriends and so, I mean, that’s really a big piece of it. I believe in everything that we do, I feel really confident in my treatment plans. And I know that it’s worth the money that I’m asking for. They are going to be happy when they follow what I recommend. And if they don’t, if they aren’t happy with their results we offer we’re probably one of the only clinics that offer some kind of a guarantee.

And it’s not really a guarantee, but it is. So, if my patients need a touch up on their Botox, we don’t charge them anything additional. It doesn’t matter what the cause was. Whether they had bad post care, it doesn’t matter. We offer a complimentary touch up if they need it. They are more likely to follow my recommendations because they know that I have their back. If they come in for a filler and they need an adjustment on their lip filler, I will take care of that adjustment. It used to be that you’d have to buy a whole additional syringe and people were just kind of bummed out about their results. So we take care of that for them. We have a great relationship with our reps. I know that they’re gonna help support me with that if I need it. If I do a treatment on somebody and they don’t get a good result, I eat it. I’m going to go ahead and retreat them. And that’s really a big piece of our process there.

Katlin Cauffman:

I would imagine, that you’ve realized that you’d rather turn away business if you and your patient aren’t on the same page with results and expectations. And at the end of the day, it’s just not worth having an unhappy patient.

Jen Bullock: 

No, it’s always a painful experience if we have to go through that. And I feel like over time, you get to a place where you kind of pick up on the weird stuff and get a good idea when there’s a red flag. And sometimes we’re just not a good fit, if somebody really just wants to come in and partially treat rather than full treatment I recommend, I’ll refer ‘em out. I’ll recommend, I sometimes refer ’em out to people I know that will do it. Or if they are super price conscious, I’ll tell them what I can do within their budget. And if that’s not what they’re looking for, then that’s okay too. I’m a lot less afraid of letting them walk out the door than I used to be. So it’s just, it saves us a lot of heartache in them too.

Katlin Cauffman:

Okay. Let me ask you this last question. Do you receive enough training when you purchase a new device and your rep comes in and teaches you how to use it? Or when skincare reps come in and talk to you about selling more products? Is that really enough education and training to get to the point in your career where you have confidence in combination treatment plans that are really going to deliver the complete experience and achieve amazing results for your patients? 

Jen Bullock: 

No,  I probably spend more time and energy and money on annual education than anybody else in the industry, because we will never know it all. It’s crazy to think about where I started almost six years ago and having to just stumble through and try and do the very best that I can with the tools and resources that we have and having to seek out and search and find what I needed to fill in those gaps. ‘Cause what they give us in a weekend injection course is barely enough to do anything with. It’s scary. It’s terrifying actually… 

I have also brought in to my own clinic celebrity injectors to train my injectors and was so unimpressed with what they brought for my brand new injectors, that it really was part of what drove me to wanna create my own injection training

And then we’re also going to be branching into the laser stuff because I feel like there is so much missing on the foundational level and we’re essentially throwing people out there to start providing services and they are totally unprepared. I feel like there’s a lot of cattiness in this industry, right? Nobody wants to share information, nobody wants to support people and that’s shifting and changing a little bit, but I almost feel like that’s kind of at the root of some of the poor education with the competition mindset over abundance mindset. There is so much out there for everyone we’re on like the very beginning piece of the growth of the aesthetic industry. 

And my goal with our education process is to be able to create a community where people feel like they have somewhere to come back to if they have questions where they’re not in an emergency situation before they have to find somebody to help and stuff. There’s definitely not enough education in this field, but you have to just be willing to make connections with people, train with trainers that have an open forum that have Facebook accounts and active Instagram accounts and are willing to just connect with people. And that’s really one of the things that we’re trying to do with our little training program is just to create a community. 

Katlin Cauffman:

Yeah. I love that. I have so many clients just desperate to talk with other med spa business owners, or other service providers at our high level because it’s lonely for them at the top and, and where to turn to. So, if someone wants to learn more about your Illume Method and potentially learn from you, we’re gonna go ahead and link up how they can get ahold of you in the future to learn about your advanced training that is gonna be available to anywhere.