August 8, 2022

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Zuma is an automated lead response solution for the rental industry.

Platforms: Browser; mobile-forward
Ideal For: Leasing agents and property managers

Top selling points:

  • Integration with existing management systems
  • Scalable to any size community
  • Uses native text apps
  • Management of apartment marketing details
  • Human monitoring/easy take-over of conversations

Top concern:

Zuma’s relative youth in the space may lead to greater changes in the product as actual, non-beta feedback from the market enters their roadmap. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because the product’s inherent stability and its developers’ commitment to the industry should dictate prolonged success. But, it may not do today what it does a year from now.

What you should know

Zuma is software that empowers apartment community managers to capture interest from prospective tenants. It automates repaid response via text or email, answers questions about properties and alerts leasing agents when their input is needed. This is an ideal product for those in the rental industry having trouble staffing sales departments or those experiencing surges in leasing leads.

The team at Zuma — CEO Shiv Gettu and President Kendrick Bradley — answered one of my primary concerns very early on in our demo, and that was how their software will work with existing industry products, such as Yardi, Entrada and RealPage.

Unlike the residential sales market, there aren’t as many software options for rental business oversight because the big names, frankly, do mostly a really good job of helping their clients. They’re also very expensive with deep functionality, demanding long-term commitments to learn and fully optimize.

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Zuma, fresh out of beta and powered by a few million in startup cash, recognized this, and sought methods to work with major technology providers, as opposed to trying to sell the industry on another stand-alone product.

The software can transfer captured lead data from mobile conversations into those existing enterprise systems, and if a smaller landlord is using something else, Zuma will make that work, too.

Zuma also works in unison with many of the apartment industry’s lead generation platforms, such as Apartment List, Zillow and Apartments.com. Leads reacting to a Zuma client’s unit on those sites can be responded to within five minutes thanks to Kelsey, Zuma’s consumer-facing chat entity.

Kelsey can get chatty about everything from community amenities and local retail eateries to common topics, such the cost of a unit and lease terms. It can also send humorous .gifs files or animations to gain attention and seem relatable.

When it’s at a loss for words, or a person’s level of interest indicates a propensity to tour in person, Kelsey alerts a leasing manager (when available) to jump into the conversation. However, it can set up a property tour on its own, reschedule as needed, and deposit times on agents’ calendars.

The app will remain engaged with a prospect through seven unresponsive interactions before closing a lead card.

Agents can jump into Zuma each morning, triggered by mobile or in-app alerts, to read through the previous night’s leads and react accordingly.

Zuma can absorb available property information from the aforementioned management products, allowing users to connect interest with up-to-date unit information and update marketing information and availability, for example. The connections are two-way via APIs, so everything stays accurate.

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However, Zuma’s user experience excels when it’s used for the engagement and handling of leads; it wasn’t designed to overlap with the systems landlords are already using.

Zuma’s Inbox is where conversations live, providing insight into lead details, source of intake, unit interest and the like. It’s fed directly from Kelsey’s responses.

The backend enables an easy way to input response terms and property data that will be shared with potential tenants.

All the heavy lifting in terms of response cadence, templates and associated workflow triggers is handled by the Zuma team out of the gate, but can be edited manually as needed.

The setup assistance is particularly helpful, as sales and marketing automation systems can be rendered ineffective if not setup effectively or actively monitored according to lead behavior. It’s best left to the experts, in other words.

Rents continue to climb in a number of America’s largest markets, and a large number of millennials expect to stay in the lease pool for quite some time, with nearly one-fifth stating they expect to rent forever.

As a result, the rental market is quickly gaining the attention of technology entrepreneurs like the young team behind Zuma. From smaller players like NestEgg to fast-growing national players such as Zumper, the increase in acceptance of renting as an alternative to home ownership is making it easier for technology innovators to find outlets in the multi-family sector.

While Zuma’s inherent sophistication and skill set tees it up for for institutional-grade urban apartment properties, the team behind it actually spent more time learning how much smaller, localized property managers run their businesses. This translates to a software product that’s flexible and able to scale down as easily as it can scale upward, which is why smaller commercial property managers should give it a look, as well.

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Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman.