My post below brought up some interesting discussions with my fellow designers and I thought I should start off a bit of a list of factors which can really expedite your work and make the whole process of design much faster. Feel free to add any comments below.
1. Proof your work thoroughly
A common problem with designers and clients is work toing and froing which can really slow down the process of design and lead to an expensive raft of revisions. No one is happy with this situation but a really easy way to cut down on this is to make sure all your copy is fully approved and proof read BEFORE it goes to your designer. This can be really important with longer document where changing copy affects not only how the copy looks on the page but your contents pages, pagination, indexing and how your copy flows around any images. So if possible (and we designers do understand it's not always possible) hand over copy to your designer that's been proofed for spelling mistakes, errors of style and especially any content and your job will be a breeze! That said it's really important that your designer proof reads their work before it goes back to you - proof reading is important for everyone!
2. Be mindful of your images
We designers have a lot of tricks up our sleeves but we need something to work with! A budget for good quality images is not a waste of money and no we can't do much with that image you found on the net. Not every image can be deep etched simply and often the amount of time spent trying to 'clean up' bad photos ends up in a very expensive average image.