Augusta State University professors study mechanics of waiting in line



Waiting in line is a necessary evil in the shopping season, but two Augusta State University professors spent months trying to figure out how to cut wait times down.

Todd Schultz and Jim Grayson worked together on an 18-month study that tested the standard formula that is taught in business schools.

Integrated into their MBA classes, the new formula by the business professors will be used to help operations and logistics managers estimate wait times for customers.

“The formulas are really good for predicting what’s going to happen over the long term,” Grayson said.

They spent 100 hours developing the formulas, not by standing in a retail store with a clipboard, but through a computer simulator.

The bottom line, Schultz said, was that they found a wide error for the standard formulas used to estimate wait times.

“We wanted to remove as much error as we could from these equations to provide a more accurate wait time and more practical guidance for business owners,” he said.

When to open or close a checkout line cannot necessarily be automated.

“There are times during the day when businesses are extremely busy or very slow,” Grayson said. “If business owners don’t take these factors into consideration, they can cause waiting line issues for their customers which could ultimately have an effect on their sales.”

Students in Grayson and Schultz’s classes are often future or current business owners, and the findings will help them teach in a more practical way.



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