Customers learn about these design themes in a display studio required at all Black Label dealerships. The softly lit studio with comfortable chairs has a cabinet with drawers containing the elements paired with each package so customers can quickly grasp the overall aesthetic.

In addition, each showroom must have at least one Black Label MKC and MKZ at all times.

“We know our clients want to be able to get in and feel this leather, see the Alcantara, feel the Alcantara,” says Paul Bucek, Lincoln Black Label operations manager. “It’s important to be able to get in and immerse yourself in the vehicle.”

Every dealer seeking Black Label certification will need to invest in showroom improvements, and staff will need extensive hospitality training as well, Bucek says.

Despite recent growth, Lincoln remains a small luxury player.

Through October, the brand has sold 76,671 vehicles, compared with 311,681 for BMW, 290,622 for Daimler/Mercedes and 244,038 for Lexus, according to WardsAuto data. Lincoln also lags Audi (146,133), Cadillac (141,452), Acura (135,177) and Infiniti (93,925) through October.

But Lincoln executives are optimistic because the MKC, which launched two months ago, is off to a strong start, outselling both the BMW X3 and Mercedes GLK in October, and sales of the refreshed Navigator SUV are up 25%.

Within a year, Frick says he expects 5% of Lincolns sold will be of the Black Label variety.

Black Label MKZs and MKCs will be assembled alongside mainstream models at their respective plants in Hermosillo, Mexico, and Louisville, KY.

tmurphy@wardsauto.com