Quite often I find that people do not know when to bring in a designer.
They know they have a project coming up and they are figuring out timeline and budget and they think it's still too early to bring in a designer. Wrong. It's a GREAT time to start the conversation with your designer - especially if you have a great relationship with that person or you want to build a great relationship with that person.
Having a second person to bounce your thoughts off is a super valuable part of any project's process and can ultimately make for a successful outcome rather then an average one. Designers can bring valuable insight to a projects lifeline. They will listen to what you are hoping to achieve and provide creative ideas/solutions to any gaps they may see. If anything, designers may even ask you a question which will help you see or realize any details that are not clear.
Another aspect that helps to bring in your creative contact early is determining budget and project timeline. You may assume it will take 5 days to create that perfect booth, but in actual fact it may take two full weeks. When speaking to professionals, you can get accurate info on how long things actually take to get done. This manages expectations and helps deal with stress. In addition to that, if you are comfortable with your designer you can discuss design costs and put together an accurate budget, instead of one based on speculations. Costs go up year to year, and sometimes even month per month. It's never a good idea to assume the costs from last year will be the same as today.
Depending on who you work with, some designers (like myself) are happy to get printer quotes or supplier costs free of charge. This process can be very time consuming and unless you know the industry jargon it can be a daunting process - that's where having a designer around can be very handy.
So the next time you anticipate a project on the horizon - think designer time! Trust me, you will not regret it. A simple email to get the ball rolling is all it takes.