Rhode Island is known for historic mansions, beaches, sailing and being home to the America's Cup for over 50 years.
But it's not the sound of sails flapping in the wind that the landlubbers from three dealerships in Warwick, R.I., south of Providence, prefer. They are partial to the clack of billiard balls.
Employees of Audi Warwick, Mini of Warwick and Infiniti of Warwick are all billiards fans, frequently playing at Bo's Bar and Billiards, a local pool hall. The stores have held celebrations, meetings and get-togethers at the 25-table sports bar.
The three Penske Automotive Group dealerships are on this year's Automotive News list of the 100 Best Dealerships To Work For. All three put billiards on their list of favored "creative employee benefits."
The Audi store is the largest, with 50 employees, according to its Best Dealerships application. It sells about 60 new and 35 to 40 used cars each month, said General Manager Jason Burley. Infiniti of Warwick, with 26 employees, sells about 25 new and 20 used vehicles each month, said Sam Abou-Ateih, general manager. Mini of Warwick counted 27 workers on its application and has monthly sales of 35 new and 20 used cars, said Brian Peruggi, general manager.
Outside meetings help promote a better relationship between management and employees and foster a culture of openness, the managers said.
The billiards hall is not only just a few miles away from all three stores, "it is upscale," said Burley. The Audi store started the billiards trend, and the others followed.
"We rent a private room in the back that has two billiard tables and TVs with different sports on, and we have our meetings and discussions," he said.
Of course, the games get very competitive. The chance to indulge their competitive streaks on multiple tables is why the stores' employees chose Bo's over other venues, said Burley. "It breaks people out of the dealership work, and distractions are taken away."
When the Infiniti sales staff hit an important target, management considered a cigar club and a sit-down restaurant to celebrate. But the billiards hall won out, said Abou-Ateih. "The most important thing is to get people involved in the decision-making. ... We call them partners, and that is sincere."
Management-employee activities aren't limited to billiards. Over the summer, the Mini dealership's employees and their families were treated to a day at a Six Flags amusement park, said Peruggi. There has also been bowling, a haunted house event and an annual Toys for Tots drive for the past six years, he said. But the most frequent camaraderie-building exercise is billiards.